JAM: Hitting it with the youth

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 21, 2003
The college magazine, popular in Mumbai and Pune, is looking to go beyond its traditional markets

What would you call a magazine, which draws from a MAD (comic and satire monthly that has a loyal following the world over), is Indian in ethos and flavour and is targeted at 15-22 year-olds? JAM, of course.

Just Another Magazine or JAM is "just about MAD" in the words of Yatendra Bansal, CEO, JAM Venture Publishing Pvt. Ltd, which began operations in 1995 to "fill a gap in the youth segment". "Rashmi (Bansal), an IIM, Ahmedabad alumnus was keen to start a youth magazine. My orientation was towards marketing anything targeted at the youth," he says.

This merging of interests coupled with the fact that the quintessential collegian juggling between lectures, college canteen, friends and pubs has no real publication addressing his or her needs, desires, wants or anxieties, spurred the genesis of JAM, a fortnightly, "for, by and about the youth". "Our model of publishing revolves around the do-it-yourself code," explains Bansal, implying that the reader/user defines the product.

At JAM, "doing it yourself" takes form in JAM bureaus spread across 400 to 500 campuses in the country. Networked by an e-group as well as the magazine website, these bureaus are a link between the product and the target audience providing the much-needed information about what is ticking, what is not and contributions in terms of articles. "At any given time, we have about 400 to 500 writers who freelance as and when possible," states Bansal. "Out of these, there are about 40 to 50 writers who contribute regularly," he adds.

If this dedicated bunch of writers is the backbone of JAM, Rashmi Bansal, who is editor of the magazine, along with her in-house team complement the process by piecing together all the nitty-gritty details to release an issue every fortnight.

Typically, a JAM issue comprises 20 to 24 pages with two supplements (of 16 pages), one on careers and the other on fashion and lifestyle alternating each other every fortnight. The main issue draws heavily from MAD maintaining a stance that is "anti-establishment", characteristic also of MAD, which gained popularity for its covers as well as its satirical content.

Much like MAD, JAM derives pleasure in taking a dig at anything popular, which chiefly finds expression in whimsical covers, the hallmark of the magazine. Though on the lighter side, the content in the magazine especially the main issue is aimed at posing a question. "We want to question anything that is popular," states Bansal.

Subjects could vary from everyday issues affecting an average adolescent or young adult to topics that are in sync with the mood of the nation such as the Mandira Bedi fixation during the World Cup or the Iraq conflict in end March/early April. The aim quite clearly is to move away from a "straitjacketed approach" giving the subject a twist instead. "The youth today spend much of their time gearing up for the future, killing their adolescence in the process. JAM aims to enliven their experience, help them open up their minds and celebrate their adolescence or youth."

Advertisers too seem to be buying into this proposition with brands such as Pepsi, Levi's, Close-up, AXE, Elle 18 and Westside (fashion and lifestyle store in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai) regularly advertising in the magazine. NIIT has tied up with JAM for the more serious career supplement comprising 16 to 20 pages.

Revenue-wise, advertising is the main driver for the magazine accounting for 75 per cent of inflows while subscription/stand sales make up the balance 25 per cent. Circulation of the magazine, according to ABC, stands at 24,810 copies for the period of June to December 2002, which is a marginal increase from the previous period of January to June 2002 standing at 24,789 copies.

Again, a city-by-city bifurcation for the period of January to June 2002 indicates that Mumbai draws the largest share of circulated copies with a figure of 13,000 followed by Pune with 3,700, Delhi, 2,300 and Bangalore, 2,200. The balance amount of 3,589 is distributed across various other cities not speaking in favour of a magazine claiming to be national in nature. "We are acutely aware that JAM is perceived as niche with a more Mumbai flavour," asserts Bansal. "We intend kicking-off a four-page supplement localised to the Delhi issue and put together by a Delhi content team in June this year. Bangalore will also have a supplement localised to the issues floating in that city."

The ultimate aim for Bansal and his team is to touch the magical figure of 40,000 copies in 10 cities over the next two years. "Forty thousand copies mean that you are delivering 2.5 lakh readers, which is significant to any media planner drawing up a national plan. Currently, we are delivering around 1.2 lakh readers, implying that we are not exactly considered in a national youth plan."

At current revenue projections, which stand at Rs 1.3 crore, Bansal is hopeful that the circulation of JAM will increase to at least 30,000 copies. "We closed the last financial year at Rs 87 lakh and the year before at Rs 65 lakh. In the new financial year, we have Rs 30 to 40 lakh worth of signed-in contracts, which has increased our optimism." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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