What’s Next

by John Brown Media Client: Sappi
The Brief

Sappi began working with John Brown in 2009 after its takeover of M-real’s fine papers division. Through this acquisition Sappi became a major player in Europe’s publishing industry, but its profile amongst end-users of its papers still needed to be strengthened.

What’s Next magazine came to life in February 2010 – the ‘Birth’ issue – with the following objectives:

  • Help position Sappi at the forefront of the print media industry, promoting its brand values
  • Be a platform for the new range of Sappi’s papers – the articles and imagery must perfectly marry with the premium papers used
  • Reflect Sappi’s position as a market leader through the highest-quality written content and visual beauty
  • Be perceived as a serious magazine with a modern, exciting and original editorial agenda, provoking debate and providing insight into the future of print media
  • Help make paper choice a key decision involving all players in the publishing process
Editorial Response

Sappi allowed John Brown a rarely experienced level of freedom to develop the right concept, encouraging us to step back and approach the magazine in a unique way and to create something totally new.

We decided that the new magazine needed to be thoroughly international in its scope, profoundly passionate about print and absolutely expert – consciously reflecting Sappi’s own experience and enthusiasm. The brand’s presence is confidently understated with the client wanting the title to be judged on its own merits; where appropriate, however, Sappi experts are brought into its pages, so making their passion and expertise tangible and approachable. It is resolutely forward-looking – a magazine for a bright future.

The first issue explores its subjects via a range of different editorial approaches – conversations between experts in their fields, think pieces and guest contributions, in-depth analyses, design projects and photographic essays. The tone and look of the content is confident, inquisitive, thought-provoking and authoritative – as well as being surprising and often playful. The visuals are striking and original.

Leading lights in the industry have readily supported the new title with contributions from, among others, Glenda Bailey (Harper’s Bazaar), Mark Porter (The Guardian), Peter Funch (New York Times Magazine), Oliviero Toscani (Colors), and Tony Chambers (Wallpaper).

The magazine works hard to showcase the Sappi papers on which it is printed, deliberately juxtaposing the paper grades used to demonstrate and contrast their different qualities. The quality of the print and finishing was of paramount importance and a triumph. The soft-touch lamination on the launch cover helped to get it noticed and talked about, and the magazine has continued in this vein – perfectly representing the quality that customers can expect from Sappi.

  • 65% of readers feel more informed about the print media industry after reading What’s Next
  • 33% feel more positive about Sappi as a result of just reading the What’s Next
  • 28% of the mailing list has opted-in to receiving the magazine after just four issues
  • 11,100 visits to whatsnextmagazine.net over issues 1-4 – each new issue is driving more traffic than the last
  • A high level of engagement with 25% of readers surveyed recalling every issue, an average reading time of 35 minutes and 87% of readers reading over half the magazine
  • 21% passed the magazine on