MEN'S MAGAZINES IN GERMANY
by Meike Werkmeister

This page offers an overview of the emergence of men's magazines in Germany. Meike Werkmeister was a reader of Media, Gender and Identity, writing a dissertation on men's magazines at Hochschule Bremen in Germany. We invited her to write an article on the German case, for this site. The article was first published here, September 2003. Meike Werkmeister now lives in Hamburg.


In Germany there was not a market for general men's lifestyle magazines until the mid-nineties. The only magazines aimed at men before that were the motor and sports press, as well as erotic titles. While women were accompanied through their everyday lives by popular magazines such as Brigitte or Petra, men did not seem to want published advice concerning lifestyles and love-lives.

In the late eighties and early nineties the publishing houses nevertheless tried to launch men's magazines that concentrated on lifestyle and fashion. But the Austrian lifestyle magazine Ego was stopped after a few issues as well as the fashion magazine Alec's. A German version of the American Esquire was published in 1987, but could not convince German men to be interested in beauty and clothes. It was shut down in 1992. Only one product of the eighties survived men's barely-existent interest in this kind of magazine: MännerVogue - "Vogue for men". MännerVogue targeted the hedonistic, successful, well-dressed men, also called 'yuppie' at that time. But yuppies seemed to prefer news media, and did not seem to need their own publication, which is why the circulation of MännerVogue never went over 60,000 sold copies. But Condé Nast decided not to shut the title down, instead choosing to relaunch it in 1997.

This was one year after the seemingly impossible had been achieved - a general interest title for men had been successfully launched. The publisher Auto Motor Presse Stuttgart, which had previously concentrated on special interest magazines in the fields of engines and electricity, had decided to launch a German version of the American magazine Men's Health in a joint venture with Rodale Press. This was the start of a new magazine genre. Men's Health was covering exactly those topics that men had apparently not been interested in so far: beauty, health, fashion and love life. At first Men's Health was ridiculed as "Brigitte for men", but the concept worked: the circulation of Men's Health grew steadily, and today it sells over 250,000 copies per month.

That was reason enough for publisher Condé Nast to work on their much less successful title MännerVogue. Spurred on by the success of Men's Health in Germany, and the huge success of a new sort of lifestyle magazine for men in Great Britain, Condé Nast decided to relaunch MännerVogue. In 1997 it appeared with the name of its predecessor in the US, GQ, and a whole new concept. Not much was left of the former fashion magazine, although it still concentrated a lot on style. But it also featured a lot of other topics now such as music, film, art, love life, sports - and erotic pictures of famous women. In Germany GQ is seen as the mouthpiece of pop culture and has a very high reputation. Famous international photographers work for it, as well as prominent German journalists and authors. Although GQ has a relatively small circulation (152,386), it has the highest amount of advertising in this market group.

In the year 2000, Attic Futura decided to launch the British title FHM, which had already been so successful in the UK for publishers Emap. The target group aimed at was much younger than the one for GQ, and the overall tone was much more daring. With more openly sexual photographs and sometimes shocking articles, the German FHM sought a degree of controversy. For its lack of respect towards dead people or politicians, FHM has already had a few reproofs from the German Press council. Nevertheless FHM seemed to please its readers, with its circulation rising until the end of the year 2001 (to 295,304). Since then figures have gone down (to 209,001 in 2003).

Another competitor came along in 2001, when another British magazine, Maxim, was launched in a German version. Maxim resembles FHM in layout and erotic photography, but targets somewhat older readers and leaves out shocking coverage. Instead Maxim seems to be obsessed with status symbols and luxury. It became the market leader in the year of its launch with over 300,000 copies sold per month, which has since gone down only slightly (to 273,578 in 2003).

Although the marketplace for men's magazines has been pushed open by these titles, editors are still uncertain about whether the market is already full or not. But some of them were brave enough to launch new magazines such as Best Life and High Life, targeted at a more mature, wealthy audience, and Men Active, which is very similar to Men's Health and concentrates on fitness and health. Even Playboy saw a relaunch at a new publishing house, and has claimed back its status as the biggest selling men's title in Germany. Another new magazine is called Amico - the little brother of the women's title Amica and the first German innovation. All other men's magazines in Germany are adaptations of English or American magazines. Amico is also the first men's title almost entirely done by women: the team producing Amica for women also produces Amico for men.

Despite the success of the magazines in Germany there is nearly no discourse about the arrival of this new genre at all. Some media commentators argue that men's magazines are an innovation of the advertising market that saw a powerful target group in the readers. There will of course have been economical thoughts in publishing men's magazines. Whenever publishers come out with new launches they do this to make profit. Still the success of a magazine is dependent on whether it finds readers - and this only happened after 1996. So economical reasons do not explain why launches became successful all of a sudden, as publishers had tried to push open the market for men before. There must have been changes in society responsible for the sudden success of lifestyle magazines for men as well. As Vogel puts it, 'No title is published without the nourishment of social developments' (Vogel, 1998, 168).

Other media commentators argue, like English sociologists such as Gauntlett, that men have to adapt to changing gender roles and therefore need guidance from magazines to find out what it means to be man in modern society. In England the way magazines represent these new masculinities is often subjected to popular discussion. In Germany their sometimes laddish forms seem to be accepted. Even feminists haven't spoken out about them yet, and it seems to be expected that everyone half famous undresses for at least one of them, at least a bit. Women and society in Germany seem to have accepted that with FHM and Maxim men now have their own Brigitte and Petra.



BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bregenstroth, Lars (2003): Tipps für den modernen Mann. Männlichkeit und Geschlechterverhältnis in der Men's Health. Münster. Lit Verlag.

Döge, Peter und Meuser, Michael (Hrsg.) (2001): Männlichkeit und soziale Ordnung. Neuere Beiträge zur Geschlechterforschung. Opladen. Leske + Budrich.

Gauntlett, David (2002): Media, Gender and Identity. An Introduction. London. Routledge.

Ifflaender, Dana (2003): Mannomann. "Amico" und Co: Der Zeitschriftenmarkt setzt auf neue Männermagazine. In: Der Tagesspiegel vom 12.02.2003. S. 13.

Informationsgesellschaft zur Erfassung der Verbreitung von Werbeträgern (2003): www.ivw.de

Jackson, Peter, Stevenson, Nick und Brooks, Kate (2001): Making Sense of Men's Magazines. Cambridge. Polity Press, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Stamm (2003): Presse- und Medienhandbuch. Leitfaden durch Presse und Werbung. Essen. Stamm Verlag GmbH.

Straßner, Erich (1997): Zeitschrift. Tübingen. Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Stuckard, Bettina (2000): Das Bild der Frau in Frauen- und Männerzeitschriften. Frankfurt a. M.. Verlag Peter Lang.

Vogel, Andreas (1998): Die populäre Presse in Deutschland. München. Verlag Reinhard Fischer.

Vogel, Andreas und Holtz-Bacha, Christina (2002): Zeitschriften und Zeitschriftenforschung. Wiesbaden. Westdeutscher Verlag.

Wand, Christoph (2003): Journalistische Nationalkultur und Erfolg in Spezialmärkten. Fallstudie zum Für und Wider von Titel- und Konzeptexporten in Europa am Beispiel des britischen Männermagazins "Loaded". Bochum. Projekt Verlag.

Whelehan, Imelda (2000): Overloaded. Popular Culture and the Future of Feminism. London. The Women's Press Ltd.

Websites of the magazines: www.maximonline.de, www.GQ.com, www.fhm-magazin.de


This page is part of the website related to the book Media, Gender and Identity.