Taking the Jamie Magazine brand global

Globetrotting Jamie Magazine editor Andy Harris is rushing for the airport when I catch up with him to talk about bagging one of the most coveted gongs at this year’s Professional Publishers Association (PPA) awards: International Consumer Media Brand.

He is on his way to Mauritius where yet another travel story will be fused with food, or is it the other way around? It’s been Harris’s long-standing philosophy that telling people how to get the most out of a travel destination is through its cuisine. But his approach to generating content for a magazine that represents one of the most well-known brands in the world – Naked Chef Jamie Oliver – still does not explain how Jamie Magazine bagged the ‘the big one’.

To win International Consumer Media Brand judges only consider UK consumer brands that expanded into overseas markets and created locally produced licensed versions of original UK products. The brand also needs to demonstrate editorial and creative excellence, understanding and appreciation of the various markets in which the title has a presence.

“We’ve been nominated for this before but this time we had a compelling argument with our citation of external licensing and also the income derived from them.” He references the fact that in 2014, licensing and syndication generated £1,185,428 of income – vital at a time when UK circulation and advertising revenues are being squeezed throughout the magazine industry. This number represents a staggering 34.7 per cent increase on the preceding year’s figure of £879,800 (and up 81% on the £654,161 earned in 2012).

To achieve this Harris had to successfully launch six local versions of Jamie Magazine in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Serbia and Croatia during the judging period. The Italian launch was particularly rewarding. “We have long championed Italian cuisine, so to have the magazine’s recipes published in Italy was a gratifying endorsement of their authenticity. In their June edition, for instance, our publishers featured not only our Italian pasta, artichoke and lemon recipes but also our foodie guide to the northern city of Modena.”

Earlier this year Jamie Magazine also won the Birra Moretti Award for the Diffusion of Culture at the Il Premiolino awards in Rome. “To be recognised in a foreign country for your international Jamie Magazines is really satisfying,” says Harris.

The PPA judges also had to consider the success of Jamie Magazine’s longer established titles in other countries. The Dutch magazine, launched in 2011, is one of their greatest success stories. “The Dutch edition really embodies the editorial approach to localised editions of the magazine. We carefully select seasonal stories from the UK edition alongside relevant and appealing local content. There’s a special section, Jamie & Co, which contextualises Jamie’s work for Dutch readers, as well as stories on local food heroes. We find that the best local publishers create content that sits seamlessly alongside that of the UK parent edition.”

Jamie Magazine Dutch ()

Above: Jamie Magazine Dutch edition

With the Jamie print title expanding so fast, I am keen to understand what Harris and his team are doing better than the rest. “It’s more a case of one small magazine company doing it alone and fast,” says Harris. Indeed, under his editorship they have launched 13 licenses in six years, with more on the cards. Apart from the UK, Jamie Magazine is now printed in the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Estonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary, with the launch edition of Jamie Oliver Poland due out now.

Jamie Estonia ()

Above: Jamie Magazine Estonian edition

“My philosophy with licensed editions is that I like to work with small publishers because they think outside the box. But we also check that they are proper companies. I base my licensing on the kind of market we can expect and what sort of sales the local publisher predicts they are likely to achieve. The key with Jamie Magazine is that we are very strict. We have a massive style guide for content and design. Our advertising restrictions are quite strong. We have lots of guidelines. That is why we go out and help the teams with the first issue to make sure they know what we expect.”

He also insists that production values remain exactly the same for all localised editions; from paper to the percentages of the mix between UK generated content and local content.   

As launch editor of the original Jamie Oliver Magazine, Harris has not lost his excitement and flair over seven years of non-stop hard work. “I put my heart and soul into it and really want it to succeed in a very tough market, so licensing success, along with newsstand improvement and subscription gains help the 360 degree picture.”

It also helps that Jamie Oliver works hands on with the publication. It’s been like this since Oliver phoned Harris in 2008 and asked him to launch his own branded magazine. “I came back after 12 years in America and Australia working in travel and food writing and launching magazines. I immediately knew that I wanted to do a magazine on uncoated paper with various high qualities. The rest was a reflection of my personality and Jamie’s personality and the team around me. We wanted a slightly irreverent, cheeky but inspiring magazine.” 

There is not a single edition that Oliver does not have direct input into content and design. “He will sit with me to discuss ideas and work on the recipes or phone me up and say ‘let’s do a story about this great chef I met last night’. In terms of the magazine he literally looks at everything. And I also let him choose the covers because his approach is very visual with good positive comments and ideas.”   

Harris’s task is slightly complicated by the fact that he is not only editor but also managing director of the business. “I have to make it work not only editorially but also financially. We are really a small team without the staffing of a large publishing house. So, I have to do multiple jobs. Apart from creating the magazine, cooking, styling and writing, I also have to bring the money in. It’s a very varied job.”

He has no plans to slow down anytime soon. When he returns from Mauritius he will be looking at the next licensing opportunity and more content syndication globally. “With over 6,000 recipes we hope we’ve got something for all markets.”

Syndication is already impressive, overseen by international licensing & syndication manager Mandie Howard. Last year Jamie Magazine syndicated content to magazines and newspapers in Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Dubai, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Sweden. Magazine content is also being repurposed in other ways. Last year, a hardback book series entitled Jamie & Friends was published by DK in Germany with a print run of 100,000 copies. Not only did this bring in revenue of £150,000, it also allowed Jamie Magazine to develop a publishing model and design template that can be rolled out in other countries. Versions of this series are planned for Spain, Denmark, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia.

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