Popworld Pulp: what the hell went wrong?

Popworld Pulp has been axed after just one week. Despite an initial print run of 130,000, they only managed to sell 9,000. Is this symptomatic of the whole “end of print” thing, with the magazine’s target audience of 16-24 year olds heading to the Internet for their music news? Or did something else go wrong?

As an attempted buyer of Popworld Pulp, I’ll offer my theory: terrible marketing. You could make the best magazine in the world, but if you don’t pay up for an obscene amount of launch publicity then initial sales are guaranteed to be paltry. Titles like Heat and Grazia will be paying off their start-up costs for a long time, but they succesfully positioned themselves in the market and each have a healthy circulation.

I chose to buy the new magazine based on some kind of brand loyalty to the Popworld TV show, rather than the shitty (and solitary) advert I saw. I then popped into Borders and… where was it? With the music magazines? With the teenie magazine? After several laps of the periodicals section I gave up.

Later, I tried two branches of WHSmiths, still no joy. Given that the magazine was essentially invisible on the high street, I’m impressed that as many as 9,000 people managed to buy it! I don’t know if they had distribution problems or if the stockists weren’t sure how to position it, but something went very very wrong.