Loaded was a mass-market men's lifestyle magazine launched in 1994, although the publication was often termed a "lads' mag". It ceased publication in March 2015. The magazine's title font was rendered entirely in lower case.
Development and launch
Marketed with the tagline "For men who should know better", Loaded was launched in May 1994. It was originally published by IPC Media who committed to its initial development following a discussion between the company's executives and James Brown during a job interview for the editorship of New Musical Express, also part of the IPC group. In development for a year, Loaded was predicted to be a flop, but IPC considered it a low-risk investment because the advertising department of its Music & Sport division already existed and the promotional budget was minimal. IPC itself had little faith in the magazine; according to Brown the staff were initially only contracted for 3 months after the launch. Taking its title from the Primal Scream song of the same name, the magazine was founded by Mick Bunnage, Tim Southwell and Brown,
In its early days, the magazine's readership was once described as "50% Sun readers and 50% Guardian readers". Brown cited the irreverent comic Viz as an inspiration for Loaded, while Holly Baxter has suggested that Playboy was an influence on the title. Brown wrote in the May 1994 launch issue: "Loaded is a new magazine dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of sex, drink, football and less serious matters. Loaded is music, film, relationships, humour, travel, sport, hard news and popular culture. Loaded is clubbing, drinking, eating, playing and eating. Loaded is for the man who believes he can do anything, if only he wasn't hungover"
The original editorial team also included Martin Deeson, Jon Wilde, Rowan Chernin, Pete Stanton and Derek Harbinson. The first issue, according to Brown, "featured stories on Eric Cantona, Paul Weller, a travel story about a man whose ‘bird’ was possibly eaten by a shark and photos of a young actress called Liz Hurley in see-through lace underwear."
Brown resigned from his post at Loaded in April 1987 to become editor of GQ. He was quoted as saying at the time: "I won't talk about Laddism and all that bollocks, that shows a lack of understanding of what Loaded is about. I'm not a 25-year- old loafer any more, I'm confronting new things in my life now and GQ will give me much greater scope... It is a natural step on." Staff at Loaded had mixed feelings about Brown considering him to be a bully while more widely he had acquired a reputation for heavy drinking and Cocaine use.
Circulation peaked in the second half of 1998 with monthly sales of 457,318, although FHM surpassed competing titles with a 775,000 monthly circulation. At the end of 1999, with circulation in the market sector now beginning to decline, Loaded dropped what was described by Meg Carter in The Independent as its "babe-only cover policy".
Launch Deputy Editor and later Editor, Tim Southwell, wrote about the early years of Loaded in Getting Away With It (Ebury Press, 1998). James Brown discussed the title at length and the impact it had on '90s culture in the documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop.
Loaded had a circulation of 350,000 in 2000. The publication was edited by Martin Daubney from August 2003 to October 2010. Daubney resigned when he became a father. Between 2003-2006, Loaded won industry awards for design and journalism, including 'best designed fashion pages' at the Magazine Design Awards, for a spread of dogs photographed wearing jewellery. Loaded staff writer Jeff Maysh won five industry awards for journalism, including MJA Feature Writer of the Year, and PTC New Monthly Consumer Journalist of the year.
After the launch by IPC in 2004 of Nuts, announced as the world's first men's weekly, Emap quickly followed with Zoo. Loaded changed its policy of a few years earlier and increased its depiction of female nudity. Standard industry practices for news' vendors were revised in March 2006 after an agreement was reached between the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Home Office following concerns that lads' mags were within the reach of children. The result was that Loaded found itself displayed on the top shelf next to copies of Penthouse and other pornographic magazines.
The circulation declined: in the first six months of 2007, Loaded recorded a 35% drop in circulation compared to the first half of 2006. In February 2010, Loaded received an ABC circulation figure that was down "just 2% over the period," compared with what Media Week called "eye-popping falls" for its competitors.
In 2007, Loaded was voted 49th in a poll organised by industry website goodmagazine.com's for the Top 51 Magazines of All Time, for the "Smartest, Prettiest, Coolest, Funniest, Most Influential, Most Necessary, Most Important, Most Essential, etc."
In the May 2008 issue of Loaded the editorial team had to print an apology to Heinz after claiming in an earlier issue that Heinz had produced a version of alphabetti spaghetti especially for the German market that consisted solely of tiny pasta shaped swastikas.
IPC Media sold Loaded, along with SuperBike, to Vitality Publishing in 2010. Circulation figures had been dropping year on year by 26.3% and had declined to 53,591 at the time of the sale. In the second half of 2011, the last year for which figures were known at the time of the magazine's eventual closure, circulation was 34,505 copies per issue, a decline of 30.2% over the same period in the previous year.
Vitality entered administration in April 2012. That month, Paul Baxendale-Walker purchased Loaded on behalf of Blue Media Publishing Group. Ian Edmondson, a former news editor at the News of the World then on bail, became editor in May replacing Andy Sherwood. Loaded 's owners Blue Publishing entered administration in June 2013.
Loaded was bought by independent publishing house, Simian Publishing in September 2013.
Re-launch and closure
Loaded re-launched for its twentieth anniversary in 2014 under editor Aaron Tinney. Tinney commissioned self-proclaimed militant feminist Julie Burchill to write a regular 'agony aunt' column and Lia Nicholls as Deputy Editor, making her the first woman with an editorial role at the magazine. The re-launch also saw original Loaded writer Martin Deeson return to the magazine. In an article in The Independent, Deeson was quoted as comparing Tinney to James Brown, the original "iconoclastic" Loaded editor.
The Co-operative chain announced in August 2013 that it would soon only sell magazines like Loaded if they were sealed in a plastic "modesty bag". Unlike some of its rivals, the magazine chose to adopt the practice. The following year, in July, Loaded dropped the photographs of partially-clothed women after the lads' mag sector as a whole had faced opposition to their publication and display on covers from other supermarket chains, advertisers and feminist campaigners. When a reporter for the London Evening Standard asked if the policy on female nudity had changed, a spokesman for Simian Publishing commented: "Yes — we’re going to be far more discerning and sophisticated from now on,"
Lucy-Anne Holmes of the No More Page 3 campaign responded to the news: "The people who work at Loaded realise women wear clothes! And do stuff!" "Loaded 's mistake", thought The Guardian 's Hadley Freeman in a piece about the magazine's attitude to women "was [that], it stopped bothering with the veneer of irony, which in its case meant humour (it's not sexist if it's funny: the law according to lazy standup comedians). Instead, it just went for straight-out sexism veering increasingly close to porn. Because nothing says Christmas Issue better than two women rubbing their breasts together on the cover – right, Loaded?"
The magazine's closure was announced in late March 2015, the last issue being for April of that year. This issue featured Noel Gallagher answering questions written by Irvine Welsh, but conveyed to him by Nicholls.
The Loaded style was copied many times, most obviously in a relaunch of FHM, then owned by Emap, Maxim and more niche titles like Eat Soup and Men's Health. Loaded also influenced women's monthlies, with Emap launching Minx, "For girls with a lust for life". In the opinion of Holly Baxter, Loaded "tried to incorporate interviews and features that would make the publication seem a little less seedy" than Nuts, its more down market rival which closed in 2014.
- Julie Burchill
- Jack Dee
- Ricky Hatton
- Peter Crouch
- Martin Deeson
- Irvine Welsh
- John Niven
- Donal MacIntyre
- Ben Camara
- Mark Sweney "Loaded magazine to close after 21 years", The Guardian, 27 March 2015
- See David Teather "Father of lads' mags still loaded with ideas", The Guardian, 24 August 2007 among many other sources.
- James Brown "Why loaded magazine had to die", Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2015
- John Plunkett "Loaded: its rise and fall", The Guardian, 20 August 2010
- David Stam and Andrew Scott Inside Magazine Publishing, Abingdon: Routledge, 2014, p.60
- James Brown "Loaded never really fitted in at IPC", The Guardian, 20 August 2010
- Loaded magazine founder James Brown has joined Sumo.tv | Media | MediaGuardian Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- William Cook "All in the worst possible taste", The Guardian, 18 November 2004
- Holly Baxter "Death of the lad mags? Loaded magazine bids farewell", The Independent, 27 March 2015
- "Loaded: covers from the classic years", theguardian.com, 20 August 2010
- The Guardian - Meet the man who wants to turn Loaded into a woman-friendly read
- Alok Jha: Lad culture corrupts men as much as it debases women | Comment is free | The Guardian Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- Paul McCann "The rise and rise of the laddery from 'Loaded'", The Independent, 19 April 1997
- Tim Hulse "James Brown, The Latest Edition", The Independent, 5 October 1997
- Meg Carter "Lad mags are growing up. Of course they are", The Independent, 18 January 2000
- Martin Daubney: My Life In Media", The Independent, 9 October 2006 Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- Gerard Gilbert "Television choices: Fresh insights into teenagers from a lads' mag veteran in Porn on the Brain", The Independent, 27 September 2013
- "I hit the jackpot - with help from lottery winner's auntie", Press Gazette, 14 August 2007 Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- About Loaded, Official website Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- Steve Bloomfield "Lads' mags banished to the top shelf", The Independent, 26 March 2006
- New Statesman - The dark world of lads' mags Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- John Reynolds "Magazine ABCs: More pain for established lads' titles", Media Week, 11 February 2010 Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - The 51 Best* Magazines Ever Archived 22 January 2011 at WebCite
- "IPC completes Loaded sale to Vitality". Guardian.co.uk. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Kate Magee "Loaded looks to revive glory days", PR Week, 18 November 2010
- Ben Dowell "Knocked out Loaded: men's mag suffers 30% sales drop", The Guardian, 16 February 2012
- Mark Sweney and Josh Halliday "Loaded up for sale again as Vitality Publishing goes into administration", The Guardian, 23 April 2012
- Sweney, Mark (29 April 2012). "Loaded magazine snapped up by multimillionaire 'porn star'". theguardian.com. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Mark Swenet "News of the World's former news editor to edit Loaded", The Guardian, 22 May 2012
- Turvill, William (18 June 2013). "Loaded magazine publisher goes into administration". Press Gazette. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Loaded has fourth owner in three years with plan for more 'stylised and subtle' approach
- Burrell, Ian (4 September 2014). "Loaded has ditched the raunchy covers - but is it time for the men's magazine to just let go?". The Independent. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Jonathan Paige "Co-op to remove 'lads mag' Nuts magazine from shelves because it won't tone down front page", The Independent, 8 August 2013
- Ella Alexander "'Nuts' final issue", The Independent, 1 May 2014
- Hannah Pool "The demise of lads' mags and the rise of feminism", The Independent, 4 July 2014
- "Respectable street beckons for the lads", London Evening Standard, 2 July 2014
- Hadley Freeman "We're back to Loaded-style ironic sexism, then. Only without the irony", The Guardian, 4 July 2014
- "Irvine Welsh vs Noel Gallagher", Loaded, April 2015
- Paul McCann "Men's glossies put Cosmo in slow lane", The Independent, 15 August 1997
- Loaded TV - related satellite TV station
- ZIP - sister publication which ran for only nine issues in 2013