Marty beats Clooney for ‘RTÉ Guide’ sales

Eurovision commentator was its top cover star in first quarter, but George trailed in last

Thu, May 8, 2014, 01:05

George Clooney might be hot property on the marriage market, but when it comes to shifting magazines in Ireland, he’s not a patch on Marty Whelan.

When the RTÉ Guide featured the Eurovision commentator (57) on the cover for the first week of February, it was the best-performing edition of the magazine in the first quarter.

Sadly, Clooney’s stock among RTÉ Guide buyers isn’t quite as high. The edition with the two-time Academy Award winner (52) gracing the cover, published later that same month, was the magazine’s lowest seller for the quarter, says editor Catherine Lee.

The interview with Whelan revealed that he underwent two hair transplants because he works “in a business where appearance matters”. The impeccably coiffed Clooney, who is also known to work in a business where appearance matters, appeared next to the cover line “how George Clooney became King of Hollywood”.

The RTÉ Guide, which is the best-selling consumer magazine in Ireland, had an average circulation per edition of 57,062 in the second half of 2013, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures, falling 7.8 per cent year on year.

Before the recession and pressures on the print medium took hold, it would sell more than 100,000 copies a week. However, the decline has eased since a “challenging” 2012, when a plunge in circulation prompted RTÉ to cut the magazine’s operating costs. The magazine’s sales continued to stabilise in the first quarter of 2014 and are understood to be running down just 1-2 per cent.

Readers tend to react well to Irish cover stars who appeal to “the heartlands”, such as in-house presenters Claire Byrne and Maura Derrane.

Add-ons such as mini-mags and supplements go down a treat, according to Lee, and sales of the Whelan-fronted edition, which hit shelves in late January, were also likely lifted by the inclusion of a free Weight Watchers magazine.