That's the message behind a full-page, inside back-cover ad in the current Media Week. 4130 Publishing Ltd. of sleepy Dorchester, the publisher of graphically-sublime, plugged-in mags covering DH, BMX, skateboard and motocross, is aiming to shatter the illusions of media buyers: its ad asks them 'which of these magazines completely outsells snowboarding titles, outdoor adventure magazines, all the surfing mags and even tennis titles?"

4130’s publications outsell many sport and lifestyle mags

The ad asks whether it’s Dirt, RideBMX, Document or Moto.

Readers are invited to choose one of the following answers:

"A. None of them. Obviously. B. Maybe the mountainbike one. C. The skateboard one. Even I’ve heard of Tony Hawk. D. All of them."

Naturally, it’s D. "Surprised?," asks the ad.

"Our four vertical magazines are leaders in their own markets, plus they also outsell a whole bunch of other magazines to boot."

And not only do 4130’s mag sell well, they sell to an affluent audience, says the ad:

"We’re not talking about people living off pocket money…as none of these sports are remotely cheap to be into."

Publisher Mark Noble said the ad was a wake up call for media buyers:

"The ad was placed to sell more ads in our magazines and their relevant websites. It’s also to stop various companies and advertising agencies from wasting their money in magazines which they perceive to be bigger than ours.

"We’ve heard of some ridiculous sums being paid for ads in certain magazines which are ‘cool’ and ‘lifestyle’ when in fact, they sell far less copies than our magazines do, and their audiences are all wrong.

"We visited a big company recently,who have a broad appeal across many sports, including the ones we take care of. They showed us their new ads which were booked in every surfing magazine on the market. When we told them exactly how many copies of surf magazines are sold, they could not believe how low the sales actually are – it’s small beer compared to the amount of issues we sell, of all our mags, whether it’s BMX, MTB, skate, or motocross."

4130’s magazines may be produced in Dorchester and look typographically ‘edgy’, but they are distributed by Comag, one of the publishing trade’s big hitters. Muscular distribution makes for greater-than-perceived availability: for instance, Dirt, the DH MTB mag, can be found in 3000 independent newsagents, WH Smiths, Borders, TM Group, Spar, CWS, Londis, and T&S.

"There is a preconceived idea in general media land that our sports and our magazines are small. In fact, they are huge," said Noble.

"So, our magazines are well worth advertising in, not just within our own industries with bikes, boards, shoe companies, but outside the immediate industry in terms of music ads, phone ads, lifestyle ads, bank accounts."

Noble also wants bike industry companies to spend more internally rather than booking ads in lads’ and lifestyle mags, akin to chasing after a mythical Holy Grail, the non-enthusiast enthusiast:

"Some marketing managers within our industry often look elsewhere for areas to advertise in, spend outrageously high amounts on magazines or projects that have zero affect on their actual audience or sales.

"They spend their money outside of the industry, when in fact they should be advertising directly to their audience, via our magazines, keeping the money within the industry we’re all a part of."

However, Dan Bromage, the publisher of Future’s bike titles, doesn’t want readers of Media Week to get the impression that Dirt outsells MBUK. In a letter he has sent to the magazine, he writes:

"We were surprised to see an ad in last week’s Media Week from 4130 Publishing claiming all their magazines are ‘leaders in their own markets’. Claiming leadership might be acceptable if it was a close thing… but Dirt magazine is not even in the same league as Future’s sector-leading Mountain Biking UK. As far as we know (because Dirt doesn’t have an ABC) Mountain Biking UK’s audited monthly sales of 49,287 is higher, er, much higher, outselling this competitor by seven to one. Unless of course there’s a new ABC category called ‘Mountain Biking magazines that begin with the letter D’ – in which case they lead by a mile in this field of one."

Noble told this unpublished letter is unfair because Dirt isn’t a "general" mountain bike magazine.

"Dirt is a specialist downhill and freeride magazine; MBUK is a general mountain bike magazine. Yes, MBUK is the leader in that market, but Dirt is leader in downhill."

Noble also cries foul over Bromage’s sales figure estimate.

"Seven to one is extremely wide of the mark." Noble said Dirt has a circulation of 32 000 of which just under 20 000 is via the UK news-trade.

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