Friday, 27 January 2012

Lads' mags: out of sight, out of mind

Sorted at WH Smith in Liverpool
There has been a lot of controversy over the way lads’ mags are displayed in newsagents and supermarkets. While some see no problem with the likes of Nuts, Zoo, FHM and Loaded being displayed at eye level, it seems more and more people feel they should be tucked well out of sight.

A survey from parental support resource Mumsnet showed that 90% of us think these mags should be well out of sight of our kids. It’s clear that the nation objects to the prominence of lads’ mags in our stores and the explicitness of the front covers.

Mumsnet decided to use this information to influence the people who decide what goes where on the shop shelves. It wrote to all the major news retailers telling them what their survey had revealed and asking them to change the way they display publications containing adult sexual imagery.

“We are absolutely delighted that Sainsburys, Morrisons, Waitrose, BP, Asda, The Co-operative Group and Tesco have all pledged to support our campaign to keep lads' mags out of children's view, in all their stores,” said a Mumsnet spokesperson.

There is also good news from the government’s Bailey Review, which is looking into the sexualisation and commercialisation of children. It has also called for lad's mags to be hidden from children's sight. 

There is still plenty of work to be done. WH Smith says that a shelf height of 1.2m is high enough for men’s mags and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents says it “cannot ensure” that its members take action. And independent newsagents and petrol stations are often the major culprits when it comes to exposing kids to what basically boils down to pornography.

So what can we do to stop the public display of magazines that exploit and demean women?
  1. Stop buying them!
  2. Buy Sorted magazine instead. It’s manly without being misogynistic; entertaining without being exploitative. And the more popular it becomes, the more seriously it will be taken by retailers. WH Smith is now stocking it, get down there today!
  3. In the meantime, get behind the ‘modesty wrap’ campaign, which will force the lads’ mags to cover up. Click here to sign the petition
  4. Contact your local newsagent and any other offenders – they do listen (see WH Smith comment below). Here’s a handy template from Mumsnet to get you started
  5. Write to commend the retailers who are already taking action. Campaigning doesn’t have to be negative; it’s good to honour those who are socially responsible
Quotes from the retailers in response to the Mumsnet campaign:

Sainsbury's: “We know that this is an important issue for many of our shoppers and this is why we were one of the first retailers to introduce modesty covers back in 2006.”
Morrisons: said it “had a pre-existing policy of using modesty covers for lads' mags, will continue to do so.”
Waitrose: “On the occasion that the publications feature covers that could be considered controversial, we would ask that the publisher polybag or wrap them.
Asda: “We are doing everything we can to keep men's weeklies out of the sight of children by removing them from prominent displays and concealing covers with 'modesty boards'.”
Tesco: “Last year, we introduced a trial in more than 100 stores which put these titles at the back of the top shelf, obscuring their front covers with other magazines. We are pleased with the success of this trial and are now rolling this out across all Tesco stores. We are already reviewing the use of bagging and 'modesty units' where these niche magazines are concerned.”
The Co-operative Group: “Lads' mags will always be merchandised on the top tier of all fixtures and be overlapped to avoid overt display of sexual images. The Daily Sport will be merchandised with the back page on display.”
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents: “We do recommend to our members that they adopt a family-friendly policy for the display of adult and lads' mags titles, which includes keeping them away from children's titles and above children's eye level.”
WH Smith: “Where we receive customer complaints about an issue in a certain publication, WH Smith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher.”


  1. Wholeheartedly agree.
    As I'm sure you're more than aware, circulation figures for the leading (worst) lads' mags have been in a downward spiral for the last few years and the 'brown bag' treatment should only exacerbate this. Let's hope so anyway.

    Good luck with Sorted - looks like a perfect solution to the problem.

    Polly Courtney
    Author of IT'S A MAN'S WORLD - an inside scoop on the sordid world of lads' mags

  2. With you all the way here, but it was frustrating to have to trawl through the 'Lad's Mags' in a local WH Smiths to find and buy my copy of Sorted Magazine.
    Back at Christmas I found the M&S billboard ads for underwear angering me in the same way as these mags do.

    Anyway...go Sorted!!! Great mag you're publishing.