Tagline: This week’s hottest celebrity news.
Who is this magazine for? Boasting a circulation that comfortably outstrips most of the newspapers, Heat is one of the big guns. It has a branded radio station, TV channel, exercise DVD and online gaming site. In fact, readers are invited to ‘breathe in the goodness’ of these multi-channel options on the mag’s very first page, a sensation that I imagine is much like walking through the front door of Lush.
Essentially, Heat is for people that like telly. Not TV or television. Telly. Television is David Attenborough illustrating the world’s natural beauty. TV is Friends, maybe, or 30 Rock. Telly is Hollyoaks and Take Me Out. That’s Heat. And who’s there on page 1 but Paddy McGuinness, whose mysteriously enduring on-screen career continues to confound all logical explanation. He’s like one of those optical illusions with the vase and the face – your eyes know he’s there, but the brain can’t help but feel confused and a bit sick.
Anyway, how can something as ubiquitous as Heat qualify as a ‘specialist magazine’, the more irritating among you might ask? Well, mid-market it may be, but Heat is undoubtedly a specialist in what it does – high-octane glossy celebritat. Heat has been making women feel insecure for over 15 years now, rare longevity in this cut-throat segment. Besides, mere average magazines cannot boast of achieving ‘the lowest moment in British journalism‘, and still sell 814 issues.
What did you get for your £1? To give Heat some credit, there’s no question that it comfortably beats all the other mags I’ve read so far on the important measure of pages per penny, clocking up nearly one page per pee.
Being a well established player, Heat has built up a stable of tried-and-tested regular items. ‘What Were you Thinking?’ sensitively deals with the fashion errors of well-loved celebs, kindly advising readers to ‘try not to vom on the nice magazine’. And then there’s ‘Fill in the blanks’, where we find an interview with a woman called Sam Faiers, whose face and responses exclusively reveal that she is made out of cardboard.
Besides the features, which we’ll come on to shortly, there’s an X-Factor heavy crossword, a hard-hitting news section (which confuses you by including a picture of Obama, but then reassuringly notes that his picture is there because he is ‘hot’) and an entire telly guide.
The telly guide makes the editorial team’s allegiances clear by writing accompanying copy for each programme in proportion with their likely interest to the typical Heat reader. University Challenge, Only Connect and Newsnight get a combined total of zero words.
Features: Because it is gossip mag law, Skeletor appears in the first feature, the thrust of which appears to be some reheated quotes from last year, plus the fact that she may have asked an estate agent to look at some stuff. And then, because it’s also gossip mag law, there’s a load of old toot about how Jennifer is definitely going to dump all over whatever Angelina is doing this year. Apparently, Aniston’s only eating egg-white omelettes with spinach and bacon in 2015, and according to our guff correspondent Rhiannon Evans, that guarantees a spicy catwalk encounter at the upcoming Oscars.
Aside from the regulars, there’s some insightful musings from Geordie Shore’s Gaz, who claims to be a secret millionaire. This may be because he has not quite grasped the difference between pounds and pence.
There’s quite a lot more besides, but to be honest, it made me quite angry. The Heat article formula has the creativity and deft touch of an aircraft safety briefing; stupid rhetorical question, joke that Miranda scriptwriters would reject, paragraph of context, the ermagherd shock ‘twist’, joke that Two Pints of Lager and Packet of Crisps scriptwriters would reject, blah blah, pop pop, woo woo.
I’m not going to mention the reviews section, except to say that if you can’t get five stars in Heat (and nearly everything does) you really must have produced quite the turd.
Adverts: As you’d expect from a magazine focused on the visuals, the ads in Heat have a somewhat skin deep feel to them. That said, they clearly don’t always necessarily expect the same hygiene standards of readers as they might from celebrities.
Elsewhere, the back-to-back adverts for Cow&Gate and Nicorette imply a concerted January push to capture the ‘regretted shag at the work Christmas party’ market.
There aren’t that many standalone adverts, but that’s because it’s far easier to shill your pap under the guise of thin articles like ‘Best Dressed Toddler’. Things like £70 Timberland boots, for example.
Letters page: Surprisingly there isn’t one. This may be because the message Heat conveys loud and clear is that normal people aren’t worth your attention. That’s partly because normal people eat fags and stones rather than egg-white omelettes, and partly because they don’t put out press releases for lazy subs to copy and paste.
God, it’s awful. Your Chickens was infinitely superior.
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