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Out of the Loop

The folding of Wellington magazine Loop this week is a 'travesty' says the chief executive of Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide.

9 May 2001

The folding of Wellington magazine Loop this week is a 'travesty' says the chief executive of Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide.

Loop magazine folded last week (30 April) when publishers Swarm Ltd went into liquidation.

"(Loop) was the best thing that has happened in New Zealand since I have been living here," says Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts who spends two weeks every month in New York.

"I get it sent to me in New York. I always have one on my coffee table and I feel very proud of it as a New Zealand product."

Joint editors Mark Cubey and Michael Tucker of Swarm Ltd say that while many factors contributed to the closure of the magazine, the crunch came when they put out a special Christmas edition together with its normal edition in December.

"Neither issue was profitable enough to sustain us through to April when the next edition came out," says Mr Cubey.

He says Swarm Ltd also had issues with the printing quality of the special edition 'which impacted on sales'.

Loop is not the only magazine to have fallen over this year. Flash and Grace magazines are history and titles currently facing similar fates include ACP's Weekend Gardener and Vision Publishing's Fitness and New Zealand Sports Monthly.

"Unless you are going for mainstream, it is difficult to make money in a market as small as New Zealand," says Mr Cubey.

Mr Roberts says New Zealand has 'to find some way that helps entrepreneurs like Loop to succeed, not punish them for failure'.

"We need to create things like tax breaks to nurse these guys through the first few years," he says.

"(Loop) was a fantastically targeted media. It was cool, hip, urban, innovative, upbeat, interesting, controversial and it appealed to all the senses.

"The paper quality was good and nice to touch. Visually the photos and art direction were great, and they promoted really good New Zealand music."

Executive Director of the Magazine Publishers Association John McClintock says 'it's a shame to see such entrepreneurial publishers having to close'.

Mr McClintock says the Association has been courting Loop for a considerable time because they 'found them to be at the cutting edge of magazine publications'.

"They were doing really innovative things and you have to stand back and say 'were they just a little too early for New Zealand'," he says.

"Loop was something totally different and for that reason alone (the closure) is a shame. What they were offering creatives as an opportunity was quite mind extending as well."

Loop employed five full-time staff, six part-time and over 100 freelance contributors.

An integrated media magazine, Loop was a world leader in terms of its delivery of its creative content via the mediums of print, CD, CD Rom and the Internet.

Its extended media online included audio visual movies, trailers and interactive content, visual galleries and 2D installations, extended text versions of print articles in the magazine, downloads of demonstration or fully featured software, and email links.

A supporter of New Zealand's creative culture, Loop created a following for its 100% New Zealand music CD after which many magazines followed suit by putting CDs on their covers.

Starting out as a free publication in December 1998, its first cover price edition with a free CD came out in September 1999.

"The fact that (Loop) is not there anymore is sad, at the same time we think we achieved some really good things," says Mr Cubey.

"We kick started a whole lot of stuff, particularly in music.

"Our support and belief in New Zealand creative culture predated the whole Government arts assistance package. People's perceptions of what can be achieved (in New Zealand) has changed. The feel good aspect has infected people and that is good."