Phin says that these are the types of advertising executions that appeal to his clients such as Samsung, HTC, BMW, Audi, Adidas and fashion brands. And even when it comes to standard advertising, Phin applies a near-editorial approach to the process.
“We don’t accept ads that don’t fit our environment, so you won’t see a cat food ad or something like that that you might see in North & South,” he says. “The reason for this is that we want readers to perceive the advertising as editorial as well, so that it flows very nicely. It’s got to be a great image and great ad that adds to the magazine.”
The close relationship between editorial and advertising is also reflected in the fact that editor Steven Fernandez produces the content for native advertising campaigns.
“He doesn’t sell ads, but he comes up with all the creative ideas. So, I’ll talk to him and we’ll work to make it fit.”
At a time when many the industry are concerned about the merging of the lines between editorial and advertising, this is certainly a bold approach. However, Phin says that Remix shouldn’t be boxed into the same category as other news-related publications.
“It’s just part of the business. For a magazine like ours, if it fits the environment it’s okay. I think it’s different from someone like the Herald that’s expected to report on news. So, when they do it, it could be perceived as bought news. But, with us, we’re just showcasing what’s cool out there. This is just another way of pointing out what’s cool.”
One thing that is important for Remix to retain is its reputation as a curator of taste. If the editorial decisions are seen by readers as artificial or driven by financial reasons, then this could lead to readers turning away.
“The stuff that we’ve done has been in a tasteful way. I haven’t seen it done in a bad way before.”
Phin points to the willingness of brands to work with the magazine as evidence of the fact that the editorial quality isn’t being brought into question by the native advertising pieces.
“For our Remix market, our editorial team and our readers are influencers. Advertisers and advertising agencies love influencers, because they start trends and hold audiences really well. Influencers follow quality and they follow things that are happening internationally. What we provide is a platform for advertisers to tap into that.”
As is the case with all examples of influencers, social media plays an integral role in the success of the system—and Phin is particularly partial to Instagram.
While chatting, he whips out his smartphone and shows me an Instagram post that he sent out 47 minutes prior. “There are 177 likes already,” he says.
“Social media is really big for us. On Instagram we have 20,000 followers, which I think is the biggest for any magazine in New Zealand. Fashion Quarterly is like 6,000.”
Asked whether he also uses Twitter, he responds, nonchalantly: “Twitter is dying.”
Interestingly, this sentiment was also expressed during the recent Radio Rewired event with MediaWorks group content director Leon Wratt pointing out that the visual appeal of Instagram makes it a much stronger platform for driving engagement.
And with the growing demand for video, Phin says that this is also a space that Remix is interested in.
“Video is something we dabble in, but it’s not really something we focus on,” Phin says. “Last September, we did a Remix fashion TV thing, where edited videos around Fashion Week. We’ve now got Amber Pebbles who’s just come on Editor-at-large, and we are in the process of talks about doing something during Fashion Week again.”