The Jackal is a new publication ‘for stylish minds’, aimed at smart-thinking, smart-dressing Londoners. It’s already been a finalist at The British Media Awards 2018 and was selected as one of Walpole’s Brands of Tomorrow this year. The Jackal is distributed for free through the capital’s transport network and in venues across the West End, the City and Canary Wharf. It offers readers profiles of influential people, thought-pieces written by a team of hugely talented writers, and insightful style, product and travel stories that reflect our audience’s tastes and lifestyle. Lawfully Chic caught up with founder Robin Swithinbank to find out more about this cool new publication.
Available online at thejackalmagazine.com and via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @thejackalmag
LC: How do you feel about being voted as one of Walpole’s 2018 Brands of Tomorrow?
RS: We only launched in March 2017 so we’re very proud to have been selected as one of Walpole’s Brands of Tomorrow already! It’s a big moment not just for us but also for smart-dressing, smart-thinking, smart-living men – we made The Jackal for guys we want to spend time with, and want to be like ourselves. Walpole, an industry bellwether, has given us its seal of approval.
LC: What’s your circulation like? You’ve gone big pretty fast haven’t you?
RS: Yes, it’s massive in comparison to most major men’s publications. We distribute 100,000 copies of The Jackal, all for free – 50,000 onto street on the last Wednesday of the month in the West End and the City. The rest go in corporate racks, airports, Eurostar, hotel lobbies and upmarket travel hubs. That puts us second only to GQ in volume; that’s about 103,000 in print whereas Esquire is about 55,000 and Square Mile about 60,000. We also produce about 20-25 pieces of content per week for the website, our Instagram is going really well, with about 11,600 followers already, and we send out a weekly email and have set up an events programme.
LC: Tell us more about The Jackal – what’s the core purpose of and where do the ideas come from?
RS: We aim it at male commuters in London, although not just them in fact. We are extremely cognisant of the fact that we’re in a space where as many women as men pass through and women love mags, so we want them to pick up The Jackal for the men in their lives. As for when this all started… It’s almost becoming a distant memory – it’s actually two years since my Creative Director and I started to have conversations about what we wanted to do, what we wanted it to be called. In 2016 our idea was to create a luxury magazine for the London commuter, delivered for free into the hands of our audience. As such we hoped it would become a dynamic vehicle for those luxury brands we’d need to partner with in order to make the model viable. The crux of The Jackal is culture, style and personality. We break it down into smart dressing, smart living and smart thinking. We also do profiles, thought pieces and product pieces.
LC: Is there a slight contraction in terms here, distributing a luxury-inspired title for free?
RS: I see what you mean but we thought the market was ready for it. We spoke to about 50 different brands in the luxury space before we got going, and asked if they’d back a project like this. We knew that luxury brands were (still are sometimes) reluctant to embrace ‘free’, (we’ve seen how reluctant they are to embrace digital tech, for example) but we felt we’d reached a tipping point and that if we created it in an environment in which they felt comfortable they’d go for it.
LC: How can you maintain a kind of autonomy when you’re distributing for free and therefore presumably highly reliant on advertising?
RS: The autonomy comes because we only work with brands that we would recommend to our audience [whether they were advertisers or not]. That’s the attitude that we take to our website too. Also, not all the things we feature are advertisers, although of course some of them are.
LC: What do you have planned for the future?
RS: We’re only 14 months old and as such recognise we’re in a very volatile industry – titles have come and gone even in the short space of time we’ve been in the business. But our audience and advertisers like us, and we anticipate leveraging that against an e-commerce business. We feel that longer term editorial outlets need to become retail outlets in order to survive and thrive, eg Mr Porter, which is a retailer first and editorial outlet second. I believe that quality editorial and retail together / e-commerce do work and think that’s where the future lies for us. But watch this space, and you’ll find out.