NUTS vs ZOO

Written & Directed
by
David Monaghan

SCRIPT

Sex In the Noughties
NUTS vs ZOO

PART 1

IN 2004 A BATTLE BEGAN TO CAPTURE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF BRITISH MEN

NUTS AND ZOO CAME UP WITH THE SAME IDEA, AT THE SAME TIME - TO FIND THE RIGHT DOSE OF FOOTBALL, GORE, GIRLS AND MORE GIRLS TO MAKE A WEEKLY MAGAZINE IRRESISTIBLE TO MEN.

NUTS vs ZOO

FOR THE FIRST TIME, WE CAN REVEAL THE MEN WHO STARTED IT ALL, AND SHOW HOW THEIR PERSONAL RIVALRIES SHAPED THE BUSINESS

NUTS vs ZOO Paul Merrill
Although there is no scientifically proven mathematical formula for what makes a sexy girl, size of tittage is I think a clearly defining factor

THIS IS THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW NUTS AND ZOO FOUGHT A CIRCULATION WAR THAT SHIFTED GIRLY MAGAZINES FROM THE TOP SHELF TO THE CHECK OUT COUNTER UNTIL THEIR WAR ESCALATED INTO A POLITICAL SHOWDOWN OVER THE PUBLISHING COMPANIES, THAT MADE MILLIONS CRACKING THE SECRETS OF BRITISH MALE DESIRE.

MP in parliament
A recent issue of Zoo magazine features girl-on-girl action.

NUTS vs ZOO AT THE START OF THE NOUGHTIES, THE BLOKEY AND BEER SOAKED LAD CULTURE OF THE NINETIES WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD.

A NEW TYPE OF SOPHISTICATED AND WELL GROOMED MAN HAD INVADED BRITAIN.

News reader BBC 2002
He's metrosexual man apparently, he has taken over from the new man and the lad to become the average bloke living in Britain's cities.

THE TRANSFORMATION TO SMOOTH, URBANE METROSEXUAL HAD BADLY HIT THE UK PUBLISHING INDUSTRY. WITH THE LAD APPARENTLY GONE AND A NEW MAN ON THE RISE, SALES OF THE MONTHLY MEN'S MAGAZINES HAD GONE FLAT.

PHIL HILTON, FORMER DEPUTY EDITOR OF THE BIGGEST OF THE LAD'S MAGS, FHM, HAD SEEN SALES FALL.

NUTS vs ZOO Phil Hilton
The moment of the lad was supposed to be over. The concept of the metrosexual was being bandied around the broadsheets. Whether anyone had told the ordinary man in the street, we weren't sure. So we ploughed on knowing that men inside were broadly the same in their attitudes as they'd always been, even though they were using rather more hair gel than had been previously the case.

PHIL HILTON DIDN'T BELIEVE FOR A MINUTE THE LADS HAD REALLY GONE AWAY. HE HAD AN IDEA - THAT IN A TIME OF SEXUAL UNCERTAINTY, INTEREST IN OLD STYLE MACHISMO WOULD LURE ORDINARY MEN TO MAGAZINES AGAIN.

Phil Hilton
Guys want to revert back at least, in this little haven of the pages, to a much more traditional view of masculinity. And that's where we were.

BUT PHIL HILTON HAD A PROBLEM - HE COULDN'T WORK OUT EXACTLY WHAT ATTITUDE WOULD RESCUE BRITISH MEN FROM THE GRIP OF THE METROSEXUAL. THEN IN JANUARY 2002, CAME JUST THE INSPIRATION HE NEEDED.

Phil Hilton
Mike Tyson went berserk at a news conference.

MIKE TYSON GOES BONKERS.

Mike Tyson
You're not man enough to fuck with me. You can't last two minutes in my world, bitch. Look at you scared, now you whore, scared of the real man. I'll fuck you till you love me, faggot.

Phil Hilton
We couldn't get enough as guys. We wanted to see more and more and we could have read pages and pages of Mike Tyson going bonkers.

PHIL HILTON CALLED HIS DREAM "PROJECT TYSON" - A MAGAZINE WITH ENOUGH BALLSY BRAVADO TO UNITE BRITISH MEN. IN 2003, HE THOUGHT NO ONE ELSE SHARED HIS VISION. BUT AT THE TOP OF BRITAIN'S BIGGEST MAGAZINE COMPANY, IPC, PUBLISHER ERIC FULLER ALSO SUSPECTED BRITAIN HAD NOT BEEN COMPLETELY OVERRUN BY SENSITIVE NEW MEN.

Eric Fuller
I think if you got on the train and got off the station at Doncaster and looked at the guys on the platform you wouldn't see many metrosexuals. And it was the guys on the platform at Doncaster that we were trying to reach.

SO WHEN EDITOR MET PUBLISHER IN IPC TOWER, THE SEEDS OF A NEW PUBLISHING PHENOMENON WERE SOWN. A LABORATORY TO WORK OUT THE EXACT FORMULA OF WHAT APPEALED TO BRITISH MEN WAS SET UP. WORK BEGAN TO PUT EVERYTHING THEY SECRETLY DESIRED INTO ONE MAGAZINE. DRAFT ISSUES WITH DIFFERENT PROPORTIONS OF SPORT, CELEBRITIES, GIRLS AND GADGETS WERE MADE AND REMADE INSIDE IPC TOWER. IT TOOK PHIL HILTON A YEAR TO PERFECT HIS MAGAZINE RECIPE. FINALLY IN SEPTEMBER 2003, A DUMMY VERSION OF A NEW LAD GUIDEBOOK WAS READY. IN A NOD TO ITS BALLSY ROOTS, PHIL HILTON NAMED HIS BIBLE NUTS.

NUTS vs ZOO

Eric Fuller
This was produced under conditions of high secrecy. They were all numbered and given out personally. This is dummy number 003. The cover of the dummy actually says a great deal about the whole idea of what the magazine would be. I mean it's got an attractive model on the front, Penny Lancaster, who's Rod Stewart's girlfriend, we all know that, it's got a very high tech motorcycle on the front, it's got an unnaturally large animal - a giant cockroach, it's got a spectacular accident on the front, TV, and tabloid TV was always going to be important to the magazine, a polar bear wrestling with a nuclear submarine... that's exactly the kind of mad story that young men really enjoy.

MILLIONS OF POUNDS NOW POURED INTO IPC TOWER TO TURN DUMMY 003 INTO A REAL MAGAZINE. AT THIS POINT, ANOTHER SENIOR EDITOR AT IPC, PAUL MERRIL, WAS INVITED TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE PROJECT. THE SEEDS OF AN EPIC MAGAZINE WAR WERE SOWN WHEN PAUL MERRILL SAW THE SECRET NUTS DUMMY, 003.

NUTS vs ZOO

Paul Merrill
I had seen the Nuts formula, I had seen the dummy, I knew what they were doing.

AFTER HE SAW NUTS, PAUL MERRILL LEFT IPC, TO MEET WITH THEIR COMPETITOR, BRITAIN'S SECOND BIGGEST MAGAZINE PUBLISHER, EMAP. AND GUESS WHAT? THEY HAD A SECRET LAD MAG PROJECT OF THEIR OWN.

Paul Merrill
The meetings were top top secret. I wasn't sure what it was at first, and then I was quite surprised at about the second or third meeting to be told it was a men's weekly.

PAUL MERRILL DEFECTED TO SET UP ZOO MAGAZINE IN DECEMBER 2003. NOW BRITAIN'S TWO BIGGEST MAGAZINE COMPANIES WERE ON A COLLISON COURSE. OLD WORKMATES WERE NEW ENEMIES, IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN'S FIRST EVER MEN'S WEEKLIES.

IT WAS NEW YEAR 2004, AND THE RACE WAS ON TO SEE WHO COULD GET THEIR MAGAZINE ON THE STREET FIRST. PHIL HILTON HAD PRINTING PRESSES WORK OVERTIME TO BEAT ZOO TO THE NEWS STAND. ON JANUARY 13, NUTS HIT THE STREETS FIRST, MAKING A BIG SPLASH BY GIVING AWAY ONE MILLION COPIES OF THE FIRST ISSUE.

NUTS vs ZOO

NUTS vs ZOO

Phil Hilton
It is an extraordinary feeling when you magazine comes out you have been slaving away on this thing, suddenly it's out there, and boy is it out there... it's enormous.

A HUGE ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN HAD BRITAIN'S LIVING ROOMS BOMBARDED WITH TV ADS. THE ADS SEEMED TO LAUGH AT WOMEN. BUT THEY ACTUALLY CONTAINED A HIDDEN MESSAGE: NUTS WAS A NICE MAGAZINE EVEN MARRIED MEN COULD TAKE HOME.

Phil Hilton
We were just worried that they didn't have the habit of buying a weekly magazine, so a lot of the questioning was around is this just a foolhardy vanity venture that's just going to collapse and fall around our ears

TV ADS HAD GRABBED THE PUBLIC'S ATTENTION - BUT THAT WASN'T ENOUGH. WINNING OVER RETAILERS WAS THE NEXT ROUND IN THE WAR. A MAGAZINE HAS TO BE GIVEN A GOOD SPOT ON THE SHELVES, IF MEN ARE GOING TO SEE IT AND BUY IT. SO WOULD THE NATION'S NEWSAGENTS EMBRACE A MAGAZINE CALLED NUTS?

Hamdy Shahein
Everyone was waiting for it, even us as a retailer. All the men's magazines used to be a monthly and this is the first two magazines come along a weekly, which is obviously quite a lot, quite nice for the trade. Well as you can see, this is some of the Nuts magazines. We found there was an incredibly strand of very simply visual humour around animals doing things they don't usually do. Now there was quite a theme that cropped up, first of all, the karate chimp who we obviously termed Jackie Chimp... and here was some kick boxing apes. It was quite nice, nice reading, a lot of sport to read, a lot of stories I approved.

NUTS vs ZOO

Phil Hilton
I think that men in offices all over the country were laughing their heads off.

FIGHTING MONKEYS HAD WON OVER RETAILERS TO NUTS AFTER JUST ONE WEEK.

Eric Fuller
We sold around 600,000 copies. And then we sold around 600,000 copies the second week as well. And those are really very, very good sales for a new magazine.

NUTS HAD SACRIFICED PROFIT TO WIN THESE BIG SALES. AWARE THEIR RIVAL WAS ABOUT TO LAUNCH, NUTS WAS OFF-LOADED AT HALF PRICE TO STEAL ZOO'S READERS. BUT WHEN PAUL MERRILL FIRST SAW NUTS, HE BELIEVED HE HAD NOTHING TO FEAR.

Paul Merrill
I think the first issue of Nuts it wasn't a great product, it didn't feel like it was very funny. It felt a bit nerdish. They had pictures of battleships when the initial copy of Nuts came in. A lot of people at Zoo looked at it and thought, ahh this is rubbish, this isn't gunna work, we are much better than this.

JUST ONE WEEK AFTER NUTS HIT THE STREET, ZOO LAUNCHED WITH A HALF-MILLION COPY GIVEAWAY - AND TV ADS WITH A DIFFERENT MESSAGE. THE NUTS ADS SHOWED MEN STUCK AT HOME WITH WOMEN. BUT ZOO GUYS ROAMED FREE, CHASING SEX WITH ANIMAL INSTINCT.

NUTS vs ZOO

Woman with man
My boys can't get enough of it!

ZOO'S MESSAGE WAS CLEAR: BRITISH MALE SEXUALITY SHOULD BE UNLEASHED. NOW PAUL MERRILL WENT ON TV TO BRAG ABOUT IT.

Paul Merrill on BBC
We are a general interest men's mag for blokes, young blokes who like football girls and funny stuff.

NOW ZOO WAS OUT, PHIL HILTON WANTED TO SEE WHAT HIS OLD COLLEAGUE HAD COME UP WITH.

NUTS vs ZOO

Phil Hilton
I got hold of Zoo and I was glued to this thing. I remember walking along the street, attempting to walk without hitting a lamp post whilst reading this first issue of Zoo. It was rather like magazine publishing becoming an Olympic sport. We'd finally met the other team and we're on the track for our big race!

NUTS vs ZOO

ZOO THOUGHT NUTS WAS BORING - NOW THE MEN OVER AT NUTS WERE JUST AS DISMISSIVE OF THEIR NEW RIVAL.

Eric Fuller
It's just blunt. It really is a bull in a china shop isn't it? Moving into the news section there's a picture here of a man who's doused himself in petrol. I think if you want a magazine you can take home and you can share with your girlfriend, it's unlikely that she's really going to want to see pictures of guys on fire.

NUTS vs ZOO There's a picture here of Jordan when she was in 'I'm a celebrity in the jungle' and here in the speech bubble Jordan is saying, 'Here Andre, stop playing with yourself, some of us need a dump. So we've got here I think Zoo giving me the image of Peter Andre's self abuse, Jordan's bowels, men on fire and copulating tortoises. It's very different from what we were doing.

END OF PART 1

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