Are magazines back? The ELLE Australia relaunch team on the global magazine revival

Grace O'Neill and Nicky Briger elle australia

Nicky Briger: “The power of the ELLE brand is extraordinary.”

Are magazines making a comeback? Across the globe, print magazines are having a major moment, and Australia is no exception. In the last year, at least six magazine titles have launched or relaunched print editions, with Are Media’s ELLE Australia print edition being the latest to hit magazine stands. 

The print launch follows the impact of the magazine’s website, which reaches a total Australian audience of over 1.6 million across all touch points, according to Are Media general manager of fashion and beauty, Nicky Briger and ELLE Australia editor Grace O’Neill.  

Briger and O’Neill spoke to Mediaweek about the current print revival and its impact on the title, which launches with a  244-page edition featuring actor Sophie Wilde on the cover. 

“There were 132 magazines that came back into print or launched in America over the last 12 months, and the same is happening in Australia,” Briger said of the current landscape.

“For us, It’s definitely that disassociation from digital, you just want to completely relax and cut off. You use a different part of your brain when you’re reading or looking at a magazine, and feeling and touching it. There’s something really special about having something tangible in your hands that you can carry and hold, and put on your coffee table. It is almost like a luxury item in itself.”

O’Neill backs this up, pointing to a “total digital overload” that the world has faced in the last few years.

You see this real craving for physical experiences that allow you to be away from your phone. When we are on our phone consuming content, we’re just subconsciously aware of all the emails we haven’t responded to, the WhatsApps we haven’t texted back, and the appointments we need to make,” O’Neill said.

“The ability to have a product that allows you to step away from all of that, and to be deeply engaged with topics that you’re interested in, I think that’s something that will never, ever go away.”

ELLE Australia

ELLE Australia cover

Bringing ELLE back to Print

ELLE shut down its print operation in 2020 due to Covid, a decision that was made by several other titles at the time as well.

There was always the intention that the title would return to print, said Briger, “from the day we closed we were talking about bringing it back.”

We just knew that there was an appetite out there, and after four years, we’ve had the opportunity to really build up our digital assets and make it a bit of a digital powerhouse. We just knew from the engagement that it was a really, really important brand.

“From a luxury perspective, ELLE is probably the number one fashion magazine in the world. It’s a major luxury brand, and luxury is absolutely thriving in Australia – despite the cost of living crisis.”

Speaking about how she landed the role as editor of ELLE, O’Neill laughs that it was a “serendipitous moment.”

“I was at a fashion show in Paris, and I bumped into a former colleague who told me that ELLE was coming back. She floated the idea about whether I’d be interested in editing it, which was obviously a huge honour. It definitely wasn’t that easy to get the job, but from the moment I heard the magazine was coming back, my brain was full of ideas about how to put a stamp on this new iteration.”

When it comes to the biggest goals that the team have for the relaunched magazine, O’Neill said “the ambition is twofold.”

“From a readership perspective, we know the appetite for ELLE is there. Our biggest goal is to reach the exact women who want the really smart, compelling, beautiful, and elevated content that we have in the issue. We have a very clever marketing and social media rollout plan to ensure that that happens,” O’Neill said.

“From an advertising perspective, I think it’s about creating an ecosystem that these beautiful luxury brands are thrilled to sit inside. That’s another thing that we’ve done that we’re very excited about.”

As for who those women who want the content are? O’Neill said, “on paper, it’s that Gen Z to Millennial spectrum, 25 to 35” – but the digital audience skews even younger than that. 

“It’s intelligent women who are very bored of scrolling on TikTok, and are looking for to replicate the experience they had growing up, obsessing the magazines. It’s also the people that have followed ELLE on social media this whole time, and are looking for that actual physical touch point with which to interact with it.”

ELLE for Brands

The first issue of ELLE has attracted a long and prestigious list of brands advertising on its pages, including Dior, Dior Perfumes, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, RIMOWA, Swarovski, Coach, Breitling, Max Mara, Kérastase, Endota, Emma Lewisham, Chloé, Marc Jacobs, and Pandora.

“We were really lucky that there has been such a great response. It is a bit of a leap of faith when you invest, and they’ve absolutely jumped in which has been amazing. We’re so lucky for that. I think that our advertisers really believe in ELLE as a global juggernaut and the fashion Bible. The power of the ELLE brand is extraordinary,” Briger said.

“Advertisers love it because it really legitimises luxury offering, it’s a beautiful place to put their beautiful ads. it’s just a beautiful showcase of luxury advertising, and there is definitely a place for that.”

Top Image: Grace O’Neill and Nicky Briger

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