Do you remember the Avengers movie? Not the Marvel Comics one, the updating of the 60s TV series? How about Steve Martin as Sergeant Bilko? Ray Winstone in the retread of The Sweeney? No?
It’s hardly surprising. Each of them was a terrible film, a ‘reinvention’ of a ‘brand’ put together by producers desperately hoping the new incarnation could take a name that meant something to a previous generation and find a new market with contemporary audiences. Ludicrously misconceived, they were doomed to fail.
Which brings us neatly to the NME.
At the last ABC the magazine reported fewer than 14,000 print sales – 14,000! I’m hard pressed to think of any titles that sell fewer. These are the sort of numbers you’d expect from those absurd titles they do the quotes from on Have I Got News For You.
But rather than just quietly close it down, or make a big song and dance (geddit?) about going digital only,
IPC’s Time Inc UK’s finest minds have decided to reinvent the title for, you’ve guessed it, the current generation.
Circulation will be boosted to 300,000, given away free like Time Out.
The content will be expanded to include film, gaming, fashion, television, politics and technology. You know, like Time Out.
So rather than launch a new product to try to make some money from the free distribution model (a model, let’s note in passing, that
IPC Time Inc UK have zero experience of), the NME brand is going to be stretched to fit the new concept.
The question is why? There is no brand loyalty left (14,000 sales!) only nostalgia, and while that makes for a nice selection of tweeted black and white photos, it’s not a sustainable business model for a brand aimed at the young, for whom 2010 is ancient history.
Obviously Private Frazer is never knowingly right about anything, so this may prove to be a storming success (and you can bet
IPC’s Time Inc UK’s PR team already have the press release written to acclaim the ‘astonishing reaction’ to the September launch), but I’d bet my entire collection of Andy Stewart 78s that this will be the NME’s final gasp.
Get ready for a new set of press releases in around 18 months time telling us that the brand reinvention has been so successful that the NME will now be a web-only product – “because that’s how millennials consume media”.
Finally, a special sneer of disdain for Mike Williams the NME editor, who came up with this gem for the announcement “The future is an exciting place, and NME just kicked the door down.” Jesus wept.