The 30 Hottest Magazine Launches Of The Past 30 Years Event: Hubert Boehle, Ellen Levine and Priest + Grace Named Hottest Publisher, Editor and Designer, Respectively, Of The Past 30 Years + InStyle, The Hottest Magazine Launch Of The Past 30 Years. As Selected By Mr. Magazine™

April 14, 2016

27513_mins_30_Event_logo You can’t have the 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years without calling out the current Hottest Publisher, Editor and Designer(s) who have put their respective magazine(s) through its paces to land it in this most elite of groups. Announcements of the winners were made at the min 30 Event on April 14 at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

On any given day, Mr. Magazine™ can be seen flipping through individual copies of new magazine launches, but I can also be found thumbing happily among those legacy brands that have led the way for all those new titles that have followed, such as in the case of the 30 Hottest Launches of the Past 30 Years.

And in doing so, I have observed the trails that have been blazed in both the editorial and designer forests, and with the advertising revenue streams that run perpendicular to those creative trails, only to connect somewhere a little farther down the path to become the communal force of nature that they are when joined.

The result was the Hottest Publisher, Editor, and Designer of the past 30 years. After all, you can’t have hot magazines without equally smoking people. So, as difficult as it was to choose among the stellar talent out there, I somehow managed to do it, and during the same epiphany came up with five questions to ask each of them.

Without further ado, we begin with our Hottest Publisher of the Last 30 Years:
Hubert Boehle, President, CEO, Bauer Media Group USA, LLC.


Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Hubert Boehle: I faced the biggest challenge of my career right after I joined Bauer Media in the U.S. in 1989. The company had just launched First for Women and even though we spent millions on TV ads the magazine just didn’t hit its target numbers. The problem was that we had badly underestimated the readers’ attachment to the Seven Sisters. The launch plan was to offer a magazine similar in content but younger than the established magazines, but – contrary to our experience in Europe – focus group attendants kept telling us: “I trust this old brand; my mother used to read it and so will I.” My boss at the time, Konnie Wiederholz, charged me with getting the magazine to profitability. I wanted that challenge, but at the same time I was scared to death because I was inexperienced and had almost no familiarity with the American marketplace. As you know, First is still around and has been a healthy magazine for close to 30 years, so obviously it all worked out. Our first goal was to stem the losses. We used all the tricks you learn in Publishing 101: cutting costs, firing up the ad sales team, raising the cover price, changing frequency, fine-tuning the editorial product. I took some of these actions with bated breath. Not all of them worked, but all in all the changes were successful, and I felt like an Olympic finalist when we finally crossed the break-even point.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Hubert Boehle: Probably that too happened during the relaunch of First for Women, and it taught me the power of reader-focused editorial. In its initial years, First suffered from terrible price elasticity. We raised the cover price twice, from $1.00 to $1.25 and from $1.25 to $1.50. Both increases were a waste of time, because we lost so much circulation that the net effect was close to zero. So the market was sending us a clear message: your original launch idea – an eighth sister for younger readers – stinks!

The decisive turnaround happened when we noticed that the magazine sold better with topics that addressed the reader not in her roles as mother, cook and housewife, but as a young woman with personal needs and interests. We did well when we covered topics like hairstyles and diets on the cover and we lost to the competition when we offered Seven Sisters staples like household tips, recipes and crafts.

So we finally changed the editorial positioning of the magazine to what we still use as our tagline: We put you first! Looking at women’s magazines today, it’s hard to believe that would make such a big difference, but back then, the focus on fashion, beauty, health, nutrition and diet was a real USP. After this repositioning, we went through with a hefty price increase, from $1.50 to $1.99 and this time we didn’t lose a single copy in sales.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Hubert Boehle: This would be the moment for me to say, “There’s never been a better time for quality journalism,” but, let’s face it, the “good ol’ days” weren’t just good, they were mind-blowing. Magazine publishing was like a license to print money and you had to spend a lot of time golfing not to achieve double-digit margins.

From that perspective, it’s difficult to be nostalgia-proof. Revenues and margins are under pressure and nobody expects that magazine publishing as an industry can return to the old way of doing business. For the last few years, every publishing house has had to adapt to this new reality of shrinking returns, and we will need to keep on finding new ways of managing our business and, most of all, new business. I wish I knew what exactly that new business will be; my guess is there will not be one solution that will fit all, and instead, a number of different paths depending on each publisher’s particular know-how.

Samir Husni: From a publisher’s point of view how do you view the future or the “publishing” profession?

Hubert Boehle: There’s no doubt that we will go through a period of intense changes. My hope is that the change will be a transformation, rather than a disruption, of the current situation. I hope we publishers will be able to use the capital, the talent and the know-how we have gathered to, on the one hand, keep our magazines attractive enough so they continue to find readers, and, on the other hand, to successfully invest in new activities. Platform agnostic is the sexy new phrase, and I am more optimistic than I was a few years ago that we will be successful in developing significant new revenue streams.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest publisher of the past 30 years?

Hubert Boehle: Samir, we were fortunate enough to win your “Launch of the Year” award a few times and I always felt honored because you choose your top launch based on how you gauge a new title’s appeal to the reader, and you’ve never been afraid of going against the grain; for example, your vote for Simple Grace this year. And the same can be said for In Touch in 2002 because the title was nothing but a little rebel at the time. So to receive this award – not to mention the million-dollar prize that comes with it – is a special moment in my professional life.

Hottest Editor of the Past 30 Years:
Ellen Levine, Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines

Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Ellen Levine: I actually love challenges – I find them engaging. Starting new magazines is a creative opportunity that some might see as a challenge, because you need to find true uniqueness and originality, but ultimately it is really a wonderful way to put creativity to work, and I love it.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Ellen Levine: There have been so many, but one that stands out is launching Food Network Magazine, which we did in the depths of a recession. In fact, the first issue’s on-sale date was the day the market tanked. We didn’t know what would happen, and when the results started coming in, we could see that it was an immediate, huge hit. People really embraced it, it was just what they needed at that moment, which is always what you are trying to achieve.

Another very pleasant moment was when we learned that the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine had sold out in a little over week and we went back to press to print thousands of additional copies – proof that women truly value Oprah’s advice and wisdom. In both cases, I felt like we had tapped into something special with our content that really resonated with consumers.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Ellen Levine: To me, every yesterday is a good ol’ day, but tomorrow is the future.

Samir Husni: From an editor’s point of view how do you view the future or the “editing” profession?

Ellen Levine: There’s more creativity, more room for experimentation than ever before. The original definition of editing was putting pencil to paper, and we all continue to do that too – editing is and will always be essential in the media business.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest editor of the past 30 years?

Ellen Levine: It is a huge honor, and in so many ways I have Hearst to thank for it. Our leadership, the editors and publishers that I work with every day – we’re like a family. There’s no other place where I could stretch myself creatively and see things come to fruition the way I have at Hearst, from launching new brands to reshaping and evolving existing ones.

The Hottest Designer(s) of the Past 30 Years:
Robert Priest and Grace Lee of Priest + Grace Design Firm


Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Priest + Grace: Remaining relevant as a person and as a designer. Being somebody who constantly believes in reinvention and looking forward.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Priest + Grace: There have been several things really. Moving to New York, from London via Toronto is certainly one. Teaming up with Grace Lee and the effect our collaboration has had on my creatively has been a revelation to me.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Yes! But of course there are many definite challenges right now. I feel everyone is looking for a new way of communicating, and the jury is out as to which path to follow.

Samir Husni: From a designer’s point of view how do you view the future or the “design” profession?

Priest + Grace: It’s about taste and value to me. If you have good taste and can be flexible there’s a place for you in the future of design. If you have great taste, you’re articulate and you don’t compromise, you are the future of the design.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest designer of the past 30 years?

Priest + Grace: Incredulous!

The Hottest Magazine Launch Of The Past 30 Years:
In Style


In 1974 when Time Inc. launched People magazine, many people said that Henry Luce was probably turning over in his grave at how an institution like Time Inc., with titles such as TIME, Fortune and LIFE, were marching through the celebrity neighborhoods with a magazine called People.

However, little did they know that People would change the course of the history of magazines when it came to celebrities and human interest, and needless to say, People also became a major cornerstone in the world of magazine business.

Move forward to 1994; literally ripping a page from the success of People, Time Inc. launched a brand-new baby, born from the womb of the master mother: a baby they named InStyle. The same remarks were made about the infant as there had been about its famous mom two decades before. ‘Why would a company that deals with news and weeklies go into the fashion market? Why would they publish a women’s magazine that was heavily focused on style and beauty?’ The same doubts, with basically the same naysayers as there had been with People, spouting the same disparagements.

When People was launched there was very little competition in its category, but when InStyle hit newsstands, the fashion field was robust and ripe with some heavy-hitters such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. InStyle had to swallow its nervousness and compete with three giants.

But not only did the magazine compete; it carved a niche for itself and did something the others didn’t do, it humanized celebrities. Suddenly people were seeing celebrities in a more personal and relaxed environment, proving that the magazine had a different access to their favorite stars than the others did, making InStyle unique.

The magazine made celebrities, style and fashion accessible to the masses without degrading the subjects they were covering and humanized the personality behind the famous name.

And of course, InStyle is not just limited to the United States. Currently the magazine is being distributed as international editions in 17 other countries including: Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Greece, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Turkey and South America. Its digital footprint is strong as well, with a website and app that keeps the brand in your face, right where it should be.

InStyle fits the criterion excellently that was required and needed to wear the title: The Hottest Launch of the Past 30 Years.

The Hottest 30 Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years

What can you say about 30 magazines that have left a streak of fire in their wake as they impacted three generations? Well, you can definitely call them the 30 Hottest Launches of the Last 30 Years for sure. And you can say they are all inimitably unique and dynamic. Take a look at each one and see if you agree with my thoughts about them:

Cooking Light-2Cooking Light: Combining the love of food and the health of its audience, the magazine was able to beautifully showcase scrumptious and delicious food, that while healthy, was so stunningly decadent-looking, you would never know you were eating in good health. It took the guilt out of eating.

Dwell-4Dwell: The little engine that could. Dwell was one magazine that if you were a gambler would have been a long shot at best. Yet, with the diligence of its staff and creators, Dwell has become a leader in the interior design and shelter categories, in print, in events and of course, digital.

ELLE-2ELLE: One of the first magazines to succeed in bringing that Euro-trend to the United States. And not only did ELLE succeed; it excelled and became a dominant player in the world of fashion magazines.

Entertainment Weekly-8Entertainment Weekly: The first major weekly magazine to be published in the last 30 years that curated all the entertainment landscape before the word curation was en vogue and provided everything its audience (and DJs) needed to know about popular culture.

ESPN-1ESPN The Magazine: ESPN The Magazine was built from the television network and the brand. The creation of a lifestyle magazine that complemented everything sports and vice versa was one more piece of the puzzle that the brand needed to dominate the sports enthusiasts’ attention.

Fast Company-3Fast Company: The new business magazine, but with a twist. The magazine kept pace with the ever-changing facets of business and industry, from the technological aspects to the business aspects, so no business or technology was left behind if they were reading Fast Company.

First for Women-2First For Women: When First For Women was born the market was flooded with women’s magazines, but First For Women proved it was a force to be reckoned with. And today, it reigns supreme as one of the leading women’s magazines on the newsstands in a still very crowded marketplace.

Food Network-5Food Network Magazine: Born in the midst of the economic meltdown, Food Network Magazine carried the torch for print, proving that print wasn’t dead and that food was the new sex of the 21st century. It showed that print well done could not just succeed, but could also flourish.

Garden & Gun-12Garden & Gun: Garden & Gun is the southern magazine with the national appeal that succeeded in creating a distinct voice that readers from every corner of the country can relate to. The magazine combines great literary content with beautiful photography and an upscale look and feel.

Highlights High Five-1Highlights High Five: As the digital tsunami was approaching Highlights recognized not only the digital changes taking place, but also the physiological and psychological changes in children and created a magazine for younger children to help prepare them for the future.

InStyle-1InStyle: If someone told me years ago that Time Inc. would be a major player in the fashion category, I would have probably laughed, but with its unique approach to celebrities and fashion, InStyle carved a niche for itself in a big way, so much so that that niche has become part of the norm.

InTouch-9InTouch Weekly: Born at the height of the celebrity craze and aimed and targeted at a mass newsstand audience, In Touch Weekly was the first major new weekly to be published in the United States since Entertainment Weekly and set the stage for two more weeklies: Life & Style and Closer.

Marie Claire-6Marie Claire: The fashion magazine with a conscience. No other fashion magazine can come close to all of the appetizers and desserts that Marie Claire offers. Fashion is still the stronghold of the publication, but there are a host of human, social and world interests in the magazine.

Living-5Martha Stewart Living: It began the trend of making brand extensions based on the persona of the magazine’s namesake, rather than what they do professionally. The first magazine in a long, time that lent itself to its namesake, and became the journal of the everyday life of Martha Stewart.

Men's Health-11Men’s Health: Men’s Health shattered the myth that the male of the species didn’t take advice or care about their bodies. And not only was that myth shattered in the United States, the brand exploded and expanded globally and proved men were just as health-conscious as women.

Mental Flos-4Mental Floss: What can you say about a magazine that wants you to feel smart again? Born from the seeds of a classroom, Mental Floss became a brand that can be found in print, in books, online and on television. It’s rooted in the idea that information and knowledge should be fun and entertaining.

MORE-3MORE: The magazine for substance and style that made a breakthrough in women’s magazines when they stood firm on the foundation that age was just a number. With MORE, women suddenly felt ageless and the magazine documented that in both words and photos.

New Beauty-2NewBeauty: Captivating and reflective, NewBeauty set the trend for the beauty space by coupling education powered by innovation to become the go-to source for readers looking for an outlet to get the truth on many beauty trends, people, and products in the world then and today.

O The Oprah-13O The Oprah Magazine: O The Oprah Magazine has been able to extend the brand from the television screen to the world of newsstands, and make it larger than life. So even if you don’t see her on TV, you can still see her everywhere. She’s always on your mind and never out of sight.

OUT-7OUT: OUT was the first lifestyle magazine for a gay audience that removed the stigma from being gay and allowed readers to remove the wrappings and showcase the magazine in every possible venue, including their coffee tables. It changed the look and feel of gay magazines.

ESCVR04_EAST_1_print.pdfPeople En Espanol: A breakthrough in the marketplace. People En Espanol tapped a growing source in the market that had been ignored for a long time. The magazine established itself as the leader in the Hispanic marketplace for the coverage of celebrities and human-interest stories.

Rachael Ray-3Rachael Ray Every Day: Humanizing a brand based on an actual, living, breathing human being is evident in Rachael Ray Every Day. The closeness that you feel with her television program is replicated in the experience you get when you’re flipping through its pages.

Real Simple-8Real Simple: I don’t think that you can go wrong with a magazine that aims to make life “easier,” especially when it comes to one that actually broke the mold of what a woman’s magazine is or should be and presented a “Real Simple” concept of living into our complex way of life.

A Taste of Home-1Taste of Home: Way before the phrase “reader-generated content” was coined; Taste of Home was participating in this 21st century concept. It was the trend-leader in this idea before anyone even knew this was an idea, proving the magazine has always been ahead of its time.

Teen Vogue-6Teen Vogue: Needless to say, plenty of magazine mothers have given birth to teen magazines in the past, but Teen Vogue is the only surviving offspring of those proud and strong mothers. Teen Vogue proved that it was as buoyant and immovable as its famous mom, and continues to be.

THE WEEKCMKYThe Week: The magazine’s tagline says it all; The Week is literally and figuratively all you need to know about everything that matters. The Week actually delivers on that statement. In a very short time The Week has become a must read and the Rolls Royce of the newsweeklies.

WebMDCYMKWebMD: While it’s no longer a unique idea that digital websites are discovering print, WebMD was one of the first successful players in the field. The brand believed strongly that it’s not either/or when it comes to engaging its audience, but both print and digital are the only option.

Wired-7Wired: From a creation based on passion and a love for everything that’s techie, Wired grew to become the techies’ bible in an industry where there’s no shortage of technology-based publications. It grew up from the passion of its creators to become the techies’ lifestyle magazine.

Women's Health-10Women’s Health: Unlike Men’s Health, Women’s Health came into a crowded market and changed the precedent of how women think about and dealt with health issues. Suddenly, a magazine was born that dominated the women’s health category.

WSJ 72-2 (2)WSJ. Magazine: Setting new standards in newspaper supplements, WSJ Magazine captivated an expanded audience and paved the way for something potentially disposable to become a collectible and valuable print product while creating a whole new source of revenue for the mothership.

Until the next 30 years…
Enjoy magazines!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: