A lifestyle magazine aimed at Christian teenagers has been launched in the UK.
The publishers of Streetbrand hope that its mix of music, fashion and faith articles will appeal to “spiritually-minded” teenagers.
The magazine, which will be available three times a year, will steer clear of articles on sex. The company says it aims to provide something different in a market already full of publications aimed at the youth market. Most magazines for teenagers focus on a blend of relationship articles, celebrity gossip and some social issues, such as bullying.
They have been criticised for publishing articles on sex or body issues, which parents often regard as inappropriate for young people.
But Streetbrand aims to be different, pitching itself at what it calls a generation of media savvy, spiritually-minded teenagers, who want to connect with other Christians.
Articles on music, books and gadgets will sit alongside interviews with inspiring young people - not always Christians - and celebrities talking about their faith.
It is aimed at girls and boys, but can it really hope to compete in a market already saturated with teen magazines?
Streetbrand’s editor Kofo Baptist says that her readers do not embrace what she calls “dead religion” - and she does not intend to preach to people either, though the content will be strictly controlled.
“It won’t be filled with stuff about sex or articles about how to get that boy” says Mrs Baptist, a PR adviser in her 30s who is also a Pentacostalist.
Kofu Baptist hopes her new magazine will inspire Christian teenagers
"It’s about telling teenagers how to make a difference in their world." She believes that young Christians look for role models and advice on living out their faith, but often find it hard to discover amongst their friends or family. Magazines have long been a source of information and advice for teenagers, but their outlook could rarely, if ever, be described as ‘churchy’. Mrs Baptist was inspired to create her own print offering after leafing through a magazine that a 13 year old girl showed her in church one day.
“It was all about tips on how to improve your sex life. I was shocked. She should have been reading about how to have fun as a teenager.”
She is also clear that there won’t be any attempt to convert non-Christians through the magazine, though the Streetbrand website does contain more of an evangelical theme.
Despite there being plenty for teenagers to choose from on the shelves, Streetbrand does bring something unique to the newsagents, says Sheelagh Doyle from the magazine trade body, PPA. “It’s a totally different market from the usual magazines, aimed at Christians, of which a healthy number must be teenagers” she says. "The most recent circulation figures from February show that niche magazines are still doing well, because they’re not trying to be all things to all people. “Because they’re niche, they connect in an emotional way to the people who buy them - you could say they’re a form of religion.”
The real test of whether the teen magazine market is ready for such a magazine will come with the sales figures. Streetbrand is currently being subsidised by Mrs Baptist’s own PR agency of the same name. But she hopes that after talks with suppliers, it will be selling alongside other magazines in most high street newsagents.