DKW&R bring Spectator to Life
Members of the team behind men's magazine Port have created a new lifestyle supplement to The Spectator with an eye on a very advertiser-friendly demographic
Kuchar Swara (Port co-creative director), editor Dan Crowe and two of the title's associate publishers, Calum Richardson and Stephen White, formed creative agency DKW&R a year ago to work on editorial and advertising projects.
They were invited to work on Spectator Life by Andrew Neil, who chairs the company which owns the 180-year-old right-wing weekly. At first sight, such a move may seem at odds with a magazine whose readers might be expected to be disdainful of a concept as frivolous as 'lifestyle'. However, Monocle and, perhaps more importantly the Economist's Intelligent Life spin-off have demonstrated that affluent, educated readers such as those of The Spectator remain extremely attractive to advertisers and that, in The Economist's case, even 'serious' titles can make brand extensions targeted at watch, car and fashion advertisers work.
"I think it's quite interesting that this market is appealing more and more to publishers," says Swara. "The sector is obviously so easy to sell to advertisers. The demographic – mid 20s to 50s, educated, professional, with disposable income, interested in nice things and loves to read – what more could a publisher ask for?"
According to the magazine's media pack, the average net worth of a Spectator reader is £1million, as a group they have spent more than £11.5 million on art or antique collections in the past year and four out of five are champagne drinkers (remember, we're all in this together folks).
"In terms of brief it was left quite open," Swara says. "They wanted guidance from us in terms of structure etc. and asked for us to push as much as possible, but reminded us that they may say no, as money was always an issue. They were, for example, not willing to pay for the logo to be drawn properly, so I paid [Commercial Type's] Christian Schwartz myself to do it at a friend's rate. But on the other hand, they were up 15k on ad sales as soon as potential advertisers were told that they would be investing in a still life shoot [below] - for the first time in their history."
"Because of the sensitivity of the spectator audience, the design needed to appear timeless and established," Swara says. Typefaces used are Modern and Times Ten. "I think Modern is one of the best Scotch Romans around and it felt like a good fit with where we wanted to go."
"My favourite thing about it is the cover [shown top]," Swara says. "The photograph [of Tory MP Zac Goldsmith] is by Phil Poynter. Picture a group of right wing journalists being shown a photo of a young, rich, achingly handsome, Conservative politician, looking cool – I think it went down well.... except the price was £1200. They tried for weeks to find better pictures but it was looking increasingly unlikely that we'd find another, cheaper image of a young, rich, achingly handsome, conservative politician, looking cool..."
The cover is certainly interesting. The shot of Goldsmith (complete with cigarette) has a 60s feel to it, redolent of a young Michael Caine or Alain Delon. In fact the whole cover concept harks back to that Golden Age of British magazines – Town, London Life etc – that so many have recently been inspired by. It also seems to play (again thanks to that cigarette) to a certain libertarian conservatism common among the Spectator readership which sees itself as defiantly in opposition to Political Correctness and Nanny Statism in all its nitpicking manifestations.
Elsewhere, the design carries through that 'traditional with a twist' concept in page furniture and some quirky headline spacing.
Neil, apparently, has big plans for title. Initially it will be a quarterly but the idea is eventually to take it monthly and to make it a standalone newsstand title, as Intelligent Life has done.
Great black and white portrait on the front page
This is damn interesting. Feels like a watershed for some reason... Half-baked ideas in my mind about 'the value of design' in 'previously unilluminated corners'. Interesting that they wouldn't pay for the masthead to be drawn properly but were soon shown that a great eye pays big dividends. Huge congratulations to DKW&R. Not sure how I feel about the market in general, but do find this story indicative of a positive change to peoples' attitudes towards design. Blah blah. It's sunday night.
Lovely considered editorial work, not that you'd expect anything less from such a team. That cover stills feels a little too close to Port Magazines – http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0067/9512/products/Port_cover5_large2_large.jpeg?100868 – but I guess when they both look this good, who's complaining?
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