Is The Face all partied out?

The once definitve style magazine has lost street cred and readers. Now its publisher, Emap, is trying to create a new title to recapture the youth market.

In what many are interpreting as yet another signal of the impending demise of self-styled style bible
The Face, insiders at new owner Emap are reportedly developing a new lifestyle magazine title,
Project Pop, to be for this decade what
The Face "should be" for those who think the original title has lost its kudos. While Emap's top cheeses refuse to confirm or deny details of any new launch plans, others in the industry are wondering just what style and format a new
The Face for the "noughties" might adopt.

In what many are interpreting as yet another signal of the impending demise of self-styled style bible The Face, insiders at new owner Emap are reportedly developing a new lifestyle magazine title, Project Pop, to be for this decade what The Face "should be" for those who think the original title has lost its kudos. While Emap's top cheeses refuse to confirm or deny details of any new launch plans, others in the industry are wondering just what style and format a new The Face for the "noughties" might adopt.

The Face reigned supreme as style bible in the Eighties but struggled to retain its pre-eminence in the Nineties against young upstarts such as Dazed & Confused and a host of underground-style titles like Tank. It spawned a host of imitators; newspapers began to write regularly about the strange ways of the young. And TV discovered "yoof".

Recently described, somewhat dubiously, as "the Queen Mother of style magazines", The Face suffered indignity last year when, after circulation figures had slipped to 71,382, creator and founder Nick Logan sold out to Emap.

It was a move many media analysts predicted would turn his flagship magazine into something "sterile and bland".

"There was certainly a fear that under new ownership, The Face would weaken by becoming more mainstream," one senior media planner observes.

"It's not that there was any doubt about Emap's publishing abilities - far from it. It was to do with a title that for two decades had typified the notion of 'free spirit' becoming part of a big, broad-based, sales-driven consumer publishing group."

The point is not wasted on Paul Keenan, until recently managing director of Emap Metro and now chief executive of Emap Digital, who is tired of hearing The Face written off and keen to point out that despite numerous obituaries, it has an uncanny knack of making a comeback. "It would be easy to sell more copies; the issue is more about enhancing its reputation in the constituency you care about," he said.

In the months following the acquisition, fears that The Face might "sell out" have proved unfounded. The downside, however, is that very little seems to have altered at all.

The editorial mix of the title remains little changed - cause for complaint by some that as long ago as the mid-Nineties The Face had lost sight of who it was talking to and that even under new ownership it's still yet to get back on track. Meanwhile, sales are still struggling.

" The Face is caught between a rock and a hard place," GQ's editor Dylan Jones believes. "It can either go more mainstream, or wilfully stray off the radar. For the time being, however, it's difficult to see quite what it plans to do."

Just what The Face "should be" seems simple. It "should be" what it has always stood for: an authoritative voice on cutting edge lifestyle and fashion.

According to editor Johnny Davis, The Face has always has stood for "giving people their head". It's about doing many things - not just rock, lifestyle or fashion. And its strength lies in not disappearing up its own backside. "So many other magazines are very, very cool with a capital C, very dictatorial. I hope we do it with a sense of fun," he told The Independent earlier this year.

Yet while the brand name remains strong in advertising terms, reality for Britain's original chronicle of pop culture is a rather different matter: for The Face is struggling to appeal to younger style-setters.

"When it launched 20 years ago there were no national newspaper style sections, satellite TV, MTV or internet - all of which now conspire to do exactly the same as The Face," Mr Jones observes. "If you want to know about the latest, cutting edge designer or film director you can just as easily find this in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine."

While the current position of The Face is felt by some to be more a reflection of changes in the marketplace than problems with the product itself there is, by definition, a suggestion here that as a product, it has failed to stay one step ahead.

Now, rather than re-launch the brand and risk alienating its existing core audience, Emap appears to have decided to maintain the title in its present form for its present readership while investing new efforts and resources into creating something as ground-breaking as The Face once was for today's style-conscious young consumer.

It's a formula likely to raise eyebrows - in the same way that IPC did with recent attempts to reinvent Sixties style bible Nova for a contemporary audience.

"To come up with Face 2000 you would need to do a completely different magazine covering completely different things," says Mr Jones. "Late teens and early twenty-somethings consume culture in a far more diverse manner than their predecessors. There's no virtue in reformatting what The Face does for a younger, more contemporary market." Sources suggest that Project Pop will be a monthly, agenda-setting, cutting edge lifestyle format and that its viewpoint and agenda will be what sets it apart.

Whether print remains the most appropriate medium to stand out and be different in the eyes of today's young style-makers remains to be seen, but Emap will hedge its bets by ensuring Project Pop (unlike The Face) is a brand transferable between radio, TV and new media as well as print from day one.

"There is always going to be room for something style-orientated and carefully targeted, and much of Emap's business success has come down to being in touch with much younger consumers and youth trends across a number of different media," Yvonne Scullion, who is client services director at Universal McCann, the media division of advertising agency McCann Erickson observes.

"If anyone can pull it off, I'd say Emap can." She may be right, but Emap cannot expect an open field. Already, other publishers are also exploring the potential to cash in on post-teen cutting edge culture "noughties" style, including the team behind one of The Face's young upstart rivals - Dazed and Confused.

Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses papparrazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

Junior Data Analyst / Junior Analyst

£20k: Guru Careers: Our client was one of the first real-time advertising prac...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis