Tatler Philippines at 20: ‘Print defines who we are’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

At the start of the global lockdown, managing director Irene Martel Francisco made a bold move to push ahead with the March 2020 issue of the rebranded Tatler Philippines (formerly Philippine Tatler). Quarantined readers had more time to savor the stories, packaged in a refined layout.

In the past 18 months, however, economics have driven most magazines to migrate to the digital-only edition or reduce the frequency of the print version while keeping an online platform. Tatler Philippines has still been delivering monthly glossies while beefing up the digital platform and reinventing the events division, despite reduced revenues.

On Sept. 8, Tatler Philippines will come out with its 20th anniversary issue, whose cover will surprise readers with its styling. “We want the cover to evoke celebration and pride,” hints editor in chief Anton San Diego.

At the helm of the pictorials from the start, San Diego acknowledges the celebrity team of photographer Mark Nicdao, makeup artist Juan Sarte and stylist Liz Uy for creating the cover’s impactful images.

Sensitive to the times

The glossy magazine has been the core product of Tatler Philippines. “It was a conscious decision to stay in print because it defines who we are. For me, it’s a commitment to produce 12 issues a year and three issues of Tatler Homes (formerly Philippine Tatler Homes). We have shelved Travel, since there is no one traveling,” says Francisco.

The print medium has become the message now. The tactile experience of thumbing through the glossies have been comforting in these uncertain times, while the sensuality of color-saturated photographs leaves a lasting impression. Francisco adds that from a business viewpoint, advertising luxury brands are looking for magazines that are reliable and consistent in frequency.

Irene Martel Francisco

Throughout this pandemic, editorial teams across Tatler Asia have been working on stories that mirror the current realities while still retaining the editorial DNA of power, style and influence.

“We need to be sensitive,” says San Diego, explaining that as people are stressed and inundated with information, they are looking for diversions. Hence, Tatler’s stories aim “to touch the heart.”

Francisco says part of Tatler’s new direction is to come out with lists of special people in different fields.

May 2017 cover: Singer-actress Lea Salonga is glammed up in an Art Deco setting.

In the past, Tatler Philippines’ Top 400 consisted of high society. Come December, Tatler’s 300 Most Influential list will acknowledge people who have been making a difference. Patricia Non, a young microentrepreneur who started the community pantry, is in the same list as Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chair of Ayala Corp., one of the country’s pioneers in sustainable development. Francisco says Tatler Philippines’ dining guide is likewise coming out in December after a yearlong absence. Instead of listing the best 20 restaurants, it will highlight establishments that provided innovative and elegant take-home and delivery menus.

Digital readers

When Tatler Philippines’ e-magazine was made available for free in Magzter, the readership increased by 30 percent, Francisco estimates.

The launch of the new website in August, designed by an American digital design company, has provided a new readership experience. “Just type ‘Tatler Asia,’ and you will get the Philippine edition. It’s geo-targeted to where you are reading it from,” she says.

The website includes the short articles uploaded as frequently as 20 times a day and select stories from the magazine. These stories are likewise shared on its social media accounts. Francisco sees the website’s potential for livestreaming shopping tours, house tours and uploading videos.

“Our market for the digital platform is younger than those in print. On both media, we are skewed more to women than men. Pinoys consume the digital platform a lot on mobile. There is also a crossover of readership. Readers who consume the print will still read the digital stories to be updated on what’s cool. There are people who want to read content 24/7,” explains Francisco.

Anton San Diego

She observes that readership in the website doubled in 2020, and the numbers so far doubled again this year.

Luxury brands in the print edition have likewise been advertising in the digital platform.

Creative solutions

One of Tatler Philippines’ strengths is the virtual event in which the media company customizes a Zoom soiree for advertisers. The intimate event involves Francisco, the advertisers, a host and selected guests—all with their videos on. The guests receive exquisite experience kits while enjoying virtual exchanges.

“The event becomes more personalized as it brings out what is important to the brands,” she says.

The managing director cites another business model wherein the media house offers creative solutions to the advertiser to get their message across.

Yet despite Tatler Philippines’ adaptation to the new environment, Francisco is candid about the business. “Before the pandemic, the magazine was very thick. Everybody has suffered from losses in advertising revenues,” she says.

The company was downsized and staffers have been on a hybrid work situation. Fortunately, they receive their full salaries and company benefits.

“It’s been challenging for me, but it’s hard to stop printing. You configure yourself to the situation and see how best to carry on,” Francisco says.—CONTRIBUTED INQ

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