Media Analysis: Brûlé unveils his vision for Monocle

Tyler Brûlé, the founder of iconic style magazine Wallpaper*, is gearing up for the launch of his latest ambitious project - an international monthly called Monocle. Hannah Marriott explores the opportunities for PROs.

Tyler Brûlé’s Monocle magazine is set to hit newsstands on 15 February and will cover global affairs, business and culture, as well as the upmarket consumerism and design for which Brûlé himself is most associated.

The Wallpaper* founder’s ambition for the title is characteristically impressive, as is its scope: 150,000 copies of the magazine will be distributed in 40 countries.

‘Everyone seems to be taking the mall approach to publishing in print these days, with lots of separate, targeted titles, but no one is doing a great general-interest magazine at the moment,’ he asserts. ‘What we are doing is taking the department-store approach and putting everything under one roof.’

Brûlé says the magazine will be ‘more mature and more robust than Wallpaper* and even more elegant in design terms’, adding: ‘I want it to look more like a book than a magazine, printed on several different types of paper.’

Global tentacles
Although the magazine’s ‘hub’ will be in London, Brûlé says there will be two staff each in ‘editorial bureaux’ in cities such as New York, Zürich and Tokyo.

UK-based PR executives should therefore keep it simple by dealing with the London-based editorial contacts.

The London team (see below) is headed by editor Andrew Tuck, who joined from The Independent on Sunday, where he was executive features editor. He is a former editor of The Independent’s Saturday supplement, The Independent Magazine.

Monocle will be divided into five sections – Affairs, Business, Culture, Design and Edits, all of which will have a global flavour.

The Affairs section will contain reportage, essays and interviews aiming to ‘set an agenda in newsrooms around the world’. Business plans to take an original line, championing ‘the small and interesting as much as the massive and muscular’.

Brûlé wants the magazine to deal in ‘world exclusives only – domestic exclusives are not enough’. This is ambitious for a magazine that only comes out ten times a year, although relatively short lead times (15 days in advance of publication) should help. Nevertheless, forward planning is advisable for PROs, given that the magazine is aiming to commission almost all photography.

The Culture section will feature TV, music, art and media, with columnists, reviewers and interviewers, and will be – Brûlé says – ‘a 100 per cent celebrity-free zone’, instead featuring media ‘movers and innovators’ and up-and-coming talent.

Similarly, Design aims to cover emerging, as well as established, designers and artists, while the consumer section – Edits – will feature products such as wine, massage, property and books. There will also be additional content online, ‘constantly’ updated at the magazine’s website, , although exact plans are yet to be revealed. PR professionals seeking to target Monocle should note that Brûlé says neither he nor his team will be swayed by freebies or press trips.

For an upcoming article comparing two airlines, for example, he says the magazine paid full price for journalists’ business class flights: ‘Part of our editorial policy is that we don’t want to be beholden to any brands.’

Brûlé has a reputation for being somewhat enigmatic. Alix Robson, MD of APR (formerly Aurelia Public Relations), says: ‘He is the sort of person I admire, but who is rather hard to reach – he seems, for good reasons, to deliberately set himself apart from the media community.’

But if Monocle reaches the people it is aiming for, it will be worth the effort. As Weber Shandwick managing director of corporate and public affairs Michael Prescott says: ‘Any media outlet that manages to attract a well-defined audience will be in demand – and this is aiming to grab a “top-drawer” audience.’

Brûlé says he expects readers of the magazine – cover price, £5 – to be 50 per cent European, 30 per cent American and 20 per cent Asian.

PR professionals can narrow down which stories are most likely to be of interest by remembering that – whichever country they are in – readers are likely to be urban, living in the ‘top 50 cities in the world’.

‘An awful lot of curiosity’
But will it succeed? The Observer media correspondent James Robinson is optimistic: ‘There is an awful lot of curiosity about this launch, because Tyler was so successful with Wall­paper*. He is very well connected, particularly in luxury and fashion circles, but breaking serious news might be a little more difficult.’

Robinson adds: ‘I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt, though – after all, he’s pulled off difficult things before.’

The generalist concept could be a winner, according to Seventy Seven associate director James Gordon-MacIntosh. He argues the increasing overlap between traditional business issues and ‘wider political, environmental and social concerns’ has created a hunger for informed analysis on a wide range of topics among affluent, influential business people.

Other titles will certainly be watching Monocle’s early days with interest. The Economist global marketing director Susan Clark says: ‘We look forward with interest to the launch of Monocle, but remain confident it will have a very different editorial philosophy and will not significantly affect our unique relationship with readers and advertisers.’

With potential for involvement ranging from political stories to fashion, PR executives will likely be falling over themselves to win coverage in Brûlé’s magazine. But ideas should be sparkling, intelligent and exclusive, because

Monocle believes itself to be just that.

Monocle: how to get in touch

For all editorial enquiries call or email each section editor:

Chairman - Tyler Brûlé, E
Editor - Andrew Tuck (contact for Affairs and Business sections), E
Culture - Robert Bound, E
Design - Takeharu Sato, E
Edits - Saul Taylor, E
Picture desk - Poppy Shibamoto, E

T 020 7725 4343

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