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Guidelines on Displaying Adult / Top Shelf Titles

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Published by: Joe Lenane | Published Date: 24th November 2014

The NFRN has re-issued its code of practice on displaying these titles.

The display of lads' mags has come back into the media spotlight recently following the news that Tesco is to cover up tabloid front covers.

In the light of this, the NFRN is republishing its guidance on displaying lads' mags and top-shelf titles.

With express permission of the publishers of adult top-shelf titles, the NFRN recommends the following Code of Practice:

Adult Top-Shelf Titles:

  • Adult Titles should be displayed on the Top Shelf only and out of the reach of children
  • Adult Titles should not be sold to any person under the age of 18 years.
  • Adult Titles should only be acquired from bona fide trade channels (on the basis that these will have been vetted by the suppliers' lawyers for compliance with legislation)
  • Care and sensitivity should be exercised over the display of Adult Titles with explicit front covers

Members are also advised to be responsive to the views of their customers and, in particular they are advised that they are not obliged to stock these titles if they have objections on religious, moral or other grounds.

Men's Lifestyle Magazines (Lads' Mags) with front covers that may offend some customers

Although these are not top-shelf titles, we do urge members to be sensitive to the concerns of consumers, particularly in relation to the display of titles with front covers and/or content that may be inappropriate to display at a young person’s eye-level or below.

To minimise complaints from consumers, without adversely affecting the sale of these titles, we recommend:

  • Do not display them adjacent to your display of children’s titles and comics.
  • Do not display them at, or below, children’s eye level to ensure that they are not in the direct sight and reach of children.
  • Part-overlap potentially problematic front covers with other titles to minimise offence to parents where your display space precludes the above suggestions.
  • That similar care and consideration is given to the display of any Point of Sale material for these titles.
  • A free, industry-agreed planogram indicating the preferred placement of titles is available to download. For further information please visit

Other Titles and National Newspapers:

The size of some titles preclude them being displayed from a magazine rack. However, with a little common-sense you can still minimise consumer complaints about titles with front covers that may cause offence, for instance:

  • You can fold newspapers in half so that the masthead and price is exposed, but the front cover picture is not.
  • On a plinth display, you can overlap newspapers with other newspapers to leave the masthead and price exposed but not the front page picture.
  • Where a title carries a masthead on the back page, as well as the front, you can display the back page uppermost.

By following this advice, it is most unlikely that you will adversely affect the sale of any title. On the contrary, by making your customers aware that you adopt a “family friendly” policy on display, you may find that parents with children are much happier to shop in your store.

Remember. It’s your business and you cannot be forced to stock any title that you and your customers find objectionable.


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There is 1 comment about this article

31st May 2013 at 18:04

Martin Ballinger

For top shelf mags, we used to put the top copy in a "Vanity Bag"; the top of the mag with the title displayed and the remainder blanked out. We never found this to adversely affect sales but did stop the local kids from an untimely biology lesson.

There could be a case here for plain packaging being an advantage, if the cover was plain with just the name of the mag, I'm sure more stores could be convinced to stock these titles hence more sales/profit.

Martin Ballinger Western District VP

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