With The Johnnie Walker House Edit winning a Gold Award at the Pearl Awards 2014 – organized by The Content Council, contributing editor Shweta Parida hails team camaraderie, passion and hard work for the title’s success.
Working on custom titles, as anyone who has ever worked on one will vouch, is challenging to say the least. Each client has a different set of expectations and requirements. With such varying mandates, creating content that is engaging and fits in with the client’s brand identity requires us to constantly push the boundaries. Of course, getting clients onboard with your ideas, no matter how unconventional, is a skill on its own.
Having worked on a variety of different custom titles at SPH Magazines, I had keenly observed and learnt, dare I say it, how to achieve the near perfect balance between editorial sincerity and corporate ideology.
So when I was offered the opportunity to work on The Johnnie Walker House Edit – a quarterly lifestyle magazine for Diageo, the blue-chip liquor giant – it seemed like I had bagged one of the most sought after assignments. People would ask me and still do: “Oh, you work on Johnnie Walker magazine? You must get to taste a lot of whisky?”
And each time, I am pleased to clarify how they couldn’t be more wrong. There are two reasons for this: a) I’m not a whisky drinker and b) The Johnnie Walker House Edit is not a whisky magazine. In fact, it’s not even a magazine; it feels more like a coffee-table book that would look very much at home in a private gentlemen’s club.
It was a significant moment when the editorial and art team pitched a proposal for a “book” that would celebrate man’s intellect through experiences and a selection of theme-based stories that are profound and timeless. As a self-confessed lover of longform articles, I was thrilled beyond words. After the team had prepared a mock-up, we couldn’t wait to get started on the first issue.
Countless creative discussions later between the editorial and art teams, the first issue was beginning to take shape and how. We had an interview with Hollywood actor Jude Law, a star contributor in author Vikas Swarup, who wrote an essay on the prevalent celebrity culture, and a host of other interesting reads by a bunch of seasoned global writers, not to mention stunning, thought-provoking artwork.
Even before the first issue had gone to print, it was clear that not only was the client pleased with the early proofs, we had a winner on our hands. As the newest entrant in SPH Magazines’ Custom Publishing’s stable, The Johnnie Walker House Edit isn’t a conventional magazine by any standard; it’s a heady mix of luxury, glamour, and intellect. When news came in recently about the publication winning the Gold Award for Best New Magazine (Design) at the Pearl Awards, New York, we were, needless to say, elated even though expectations had already been created. No, it wasn’t vanity but a case of strong belief in the work that we do and prestigious awards such as this only boost that confidence further.
With the first issue winning such rave reviews, we thought it would be a hard one to top. But, we’ve just put the second issue to bed and I can’t help but get the same lofty feeling that I had with the debut issue. Bring on the awards season.
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