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Does the Co-operative know breast?



We’ve all been there – you walk into your local newsagent to pick up the latest copy of Heat or OK! and as you’re ferreting around for it on the shelf, all of a sudden you find yourself up close and personal with the latest Big Brother evictee’s boobs!

Does it bother me? Not particularly, especially since my job entails flicking through scantily dressed women to find my client’s gadget coverage on a weekly basis! But it seems one particular retail chain has called time on this open book policy…

Last week the Co-operative chain announced it will no longer sell Nuts, Zoo or any other publication that openly portrays ‘lewd pictures’ on its front cover, unless it has been pre-packaged in a ‘modesty bag’. The titles under scrutiny have been given until the 9th September to action this, or it’s curtains for them as far as the Co-op is concerned.

In response to this, Nuts publisher IPC Inspire has announced that it will not use the bags, describing the ultimatum as 'an unreasonable attempt to prevent shoppers from freely browsing a legal magazine that is already displayed according to Home Office guidelines'.

So who, if anyone, is in the right? Well, there’s a valid argument for both sides, which is why this debate seems to have sparked such an interest in the press.

Firstly, it is understandable that the Co-op is taking such a firm line on indecent imagery, given the government’s recent proposals outlining the effects of sexual images on children. Parents shouldn’t have to feel apprehensive about taking their children into their local convenience store to buy a pint of milk, nor should they have to feel embarrassed about the classic awkward questions kids like to dish out in public places!

It also depends on the size of a store and its layout. I quite frequently visit the Co-op store on Market Street in Manchester and the magazine rack (excuse the pun) is rather small and doesn’t really allow for specific title sections, therefore everything is grouped together. This limited space means there’s no ‘top shelf’ and magazines such as Nuts and Zoo are directly in the eye line of any customer who is queuing up to pay.  

But are we all overreacting a bit here? As IPC Inspire rightly states, these magazine formats have been around for years and are as much a part of the corner shop shelf as the ‘get the size 6 look’ messaging that the women’s mags openly promote on a weekly basis. That’s a different issue altogether, but a valid point all the same – magazine front covers are designed to surprise and sometimes alarm you into picking up a copy. Shock tactics are what publications rely on for sales and if we’re policing one section shouldn’t we be looking at them all?

High street chains should also lend consideration to the sheer cost these ‘modesty bags’ will suck from the publishing houses. Not just in terms of materials, but also design and any additional fulfilment requirements.

Personally, the argument to keep what’s on the front cover of these mags doesn’t really affect me, but what I do still value is a print publication. Working in the industry I know how hard publishing houses work to keep consumers going back to the shelf week after week, and I think it’d be a great shame for them to lose retail support – whatever the underlying reason.

Have you got a product you want to get amongst the boobs and banter? Feel free to give me a call to discuss your PR requirements in more detail. You can reach me on 0161 871 1188 or you can follow my musings on twitter: @GemmaC_PR 

 

Tagged with: Food and Drink PR, IPC Inspire, Manchester, modesty bags, North West , Nuts Magazine, Retail, The Co-operative, Zoo Magazine