How do you create a reason to buy for a fledgling magazine which lacked the exclusive content of bigger, ‘insider’ titles such as OK! and Hello? An upstart also hampered (in the pre-Big Brother era) by an irreverent, gossipy tone that was at odds with the prevailing sycophantic attitude to celebrity. No matter how funny, it all felt a bit wrong and ‘dirty’.
What do you do when gossip is seen as a bad thing? Clearly, you point out that this is wrong. As any anthropologist knows, gossip is actually good for us…an essential part of building strong social bonds. So liking a good gossip is something to be celebrated rather than relegated to guilty secret.
We knew there was no mileage in Heat following the competition in highlighting magazine content (which in our case was normally just last week’s news re-Heated anyway). Instead, we focused on the reader and their need for the gossip Heat was offering. Pushing things to amusing extremes, we dramatised the need to know about the lives of celebrities which all readers recognised in themselves, and the social currency that can be gained from this. Gossip is good for you!
Aside from helping to create a genuine cultural phenomenon that redefined how we view celebrity today, ushering in the era of reality TV, we also took weekly sales of Heat from 20,000 to a peak of 600,000…an increase of 3000%!