Why lads magazines are going to fail in China


According to Danwei sources, the SCMP group laid off all Beijing office employees who were working on Maxim magazine, which has been 'about to launch' for the last two years.

So no Maxim for the next while. Playboy and Penthouse, dying in their home markets, are too closely associated with pornography to be allowed to publish in China.

FHM (June issue pictured) battles on, under the stewardship of the Trends group, which also publishes mediocre but profitable local editions of Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, et cetera. This means that FHM is probably going to be around for a while.

Especially because it has successfully imported a form — albeit very diluted — of British lads' humor based on irreverence, which is very welcome in a country where everyone is all reverence all the time.

But publishing lads mags in China is never going to be a goldmine. Irreverence only goes so far; let's cut to the chase: The main selling point of FHM, Maxim and other such magazines is photos of hot chicks who don't wear too many clothes. And in that department, there is way too much competition.


The FHM cover pictured above has the sexiest photo in the entire June issue. Meanwhile, let's take a look at some other options available after a random surf through some state-owned websites.

To the left is an image from a gallery called "Delicious" chocolate fashion show on Xinhua, published at about the same time as another Sinhua special called Italian version of Marilyn Monroe. A quick visit to Northeast News reveals some recent updates — scanned foreign magazine pictures — on their "sports section". Danwei does know where to look for this stuff, but it's not exactly hard to find.


And it's getting easier. Anyone with an Internet-enabled mobile phone in China gets a few bookmarks loaded on their phone when they buy it. The screen on the left is one click away from the Monternet bookmark. With headlines like "Three foreign women show how open they really are" and photos racier than anything in FHM, this mobile phone web page offers movies for a 6 yuan monthly fee plus download costs.

With the Internet providing a universe of free girlie pics, Chinese lads might find it hard part with 20 yuan to buy a copy of FHM.

- More about SCMP Group's Mainland activities on Danwei: SCMP group gets contract for In Style magazine
- Trends Group home page

UPDATE: Reader M has some complaints about the links above:

I'm surprised you missed the IPR hook; the State-owned sites will just pirate all the good pics, e.g.: 1.

And as far as good examples of gratuitous State-owned soft-core go, yours were rather tame, e.g.: 2, 3.

And, let's not forget a little something for the lads who like lads: 4, 5, 6

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