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The great lad-mag cover-up

According to Media Guardian [free registration required], Tesco will move lad-mags such as Zoo and Nuts towards the top shelf, and position them in such a way that their covers are obscured. The move is because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between some lad-mags and pornographic magazines, and Tesco says it’s in response to customer complaints.

It’s an interesting development: Tesco isn’t censoring the magazines at all, but by changing their position on the newsstands and placing them in such a way that only the title of the magazine is visible, they could damage the magazines’ sales. Magazine covers are a key sales tactic, so much so that a duff cover can seriously damage the sales of that particular issue; the whole point of a cover is to jump out at you from the shelf and shout “buy me!”. Tesco is effectively saying to the publishers of these magazines, “if you want your titles to look like porn, we’ll treat them like porn.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether Tesco applies the same tactic to some of the more sexually oriented “grown up” men’s magazine covers, or whether it stops selling (or at least, stops displaying) the downmarket tabloids whose covers are just as sexual as the lad-mags.