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Why Australian GQ sucks – part 4: Audience & Competitors May 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, work/life.
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I may very well be the only straight man in Australia with this opinion, but I’m not interested in buying magazines with girls flaunting themselves on the front cover. If I want that, I can go to almost any bar on a Friday night and see pretty young things who can’t hold their pre-mixed vodka. And if for some bizarre reason I’m really desperate to see girls tarted up and air-brushed to within an inch of their cosmetically enhanced lives, I’ll google “porn star” and see what I find. In fairness, British GQ are as guilty of this as anyone, and Australian GQ actually have Guy Pearce on the cover for their April/May issue.

Regardless, put a stunning David Bailey portrait on the cover (better yet, an Australian photographer – Robert Paul Mee has a lousy website but is brilliant) and I’m 10 times more likely to buy than a bikini-clad actress. I realise I have now put myself in an even smaller subset of beings who know a David Bailey photograph on sight, but nobody said this was going to be easy.

The first part of this is something I don’t have an easy answer to, but I think about it a lot, and that’s we need a new definition of masculinity because the old one isn’t working, and while that is something that informs this argument, it is itself a separate post (and one I look forward to).

The second part of this is looking at the space GQ exists in. Australian GQ competes on the shelves of newsagents and Borders against British GQ, American GQ (only marginally better than ours, but full of white-bread Hilfiger and Polo ads, therefore beyond saving) and Esquire (here the US version is actually better than the English one) among others.

It does not compete (or at least it shouldn’t) with Ralph, FHM or any other “lad” magazine purporting to appeal to stereotypical male culture. Who writes this drivel? Who sees enough value in its pages to shell out for it? FHM are certainly aware of how low-brow they are, to the extent that they’ve started releasing dedicated Style issues in an attempt to reach people like me. Sorry guys, your brand doesn’t stretch in that direction, no matter how hard you pull (pun intended).

Does the GQ man lust after models in magazines or does the GQ man party with them on his private yacht? Right. So get them off the cover and let’s replace it with some men we can actually respect and who have earned the spot. British GQ used to run “Britain’s leading quality men’s monthly” across their masthead, and while you could argue you shouldn’t have to say it, they at least knew where they were headed.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up by looking at online.

Image courtesy of Proserpina with thanks to Flickr Storm.

Update: I wanted to link all five posts together for easy reference, so here they are.

  1. The Editor
  2. The Writers
  3. The Art Direction
  4. Audience & Competitors (you are here)
  5. Online