Lisa Messenger takes a punt with $1.5m launch of ‘the Vanity Fair of business magazines’

Messenger CollectiveToday sees the launch of a major new independent business title with the publication of the 100,000 print run Messenger Collective.

The high-end magazine featuring interviews and profiles of players in the business world comes from marketing and book publishing company The Messenger Group. The company is owned by Lisa Messenger who is also editor of the title.

According to Messenger, the majority of distribution will stay within Australia with additional circulation in 10 other countries including the US, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the UK.

The title – initially bi-monthly – will increase frequency to monthly in 2014. It will be priced at $9.95.

“I’m not interested in being small,” Messenger told Mumbrella. “I’ve had my own business for 11-and-a-half years and I need to take the punt now and create something big and come out of the gates strong.”

“I wanted to be global from the start. It’s important to me that we have fresh content from around the world and become a leader in the entrepreneurial space on a global level.”

Publishing 100,000 copies of the glossy 176-page mag will cost $1.5m to produce the first four issues, said Messenger.

While the publication looked to inspiration from media brands Wired, Fast Company, Monocle and locally BRW and Boss, from a content perspective, Messenger said: “If I was going to be putting out another business title like that it would be going into a relatively niche market. However, I wanted to produce something that was going to appeal to a mass market. So we’ve morphed the business magazines with something like Vanity Fair. It’s highly designed and beautiful. And I’ve done that specifically as I think it will appeal to a whole other side of the market, those people who like magazines with a design aesthetic. Someone who has seen the publication said: ‘It’s like Frankie for grown ups’, which I was really excited by. I have huge admiration for Frankie and what Morrison Media have done with it.”

The title describes itself as “interviewing the people making the greatest impact on the business world, in any given industry; the game changers, the thought leaders, the rule breakers, the style makers. We want to know how and why their business evolved. We want to make entrepreneurialism accessible”. Messenger Collective will be distributed as a newsstand publication and pre-sold to high-end corporate clients. The publication will be available across 3,506 news agencies as well as 685 Coles supermarkets, 44 Newslink stores, Magshop, stationery store Kikki K and online via iSubscribe.

Messenger has pre-sold the magazine to clients such as CommBank, PWC and Qantas as incentives to their high-end customers, a move similar to the distribution of the 400 books published under Messenger Publishing’s banner.

Messenger did not disclose the exact ratio of magazines going to newsstands versus corporates but said she was giving equal effort to both distribution routes.

“It’s a massive investment for me, we’re not a Bauer Media. My arse is on the line to create something that will cut through, and I hope I’ve achieved that,” said Messenger. “Also, we’re not one of those big publishing houses that can cross pollinate across multiple titles. When a new title is coming, they can advertise it in six of their titles so everyone knows it’s coming. I haven’t had that opportunity so I’ve had to think quite laterally about the partnerships I form.”

“We’re a marketing agency that just happens to publish books and magazines so we have some interesting tactics that will happen from this week. [But] from a marketing standpoint it’s multi-pronged. For example, we have 92 stories in the magazine – none of which have been picked up through syndication – on people who have extraordinary social media followings and so we’re capitalising on that.”

The first issue sees interviews with online start-ups Etsy and Kickstarter and Apple Fellow Guy Kawasaki, as well as Dinosaur Designs co-founder Louise Olsen.

Messenger said: “Our audience is the affluential and influential. It’s people who are the big thinkers. It’s one of the reasons PWC is supporting us, they aren’t looking at the multimillionaires.”

Similarly, on the topic of target audience, Messenger said: “A lot of advertising people have asked do I think it’s for men or women and I can say it’s a 70 to 30 female-male skew, but the reality is until it hits the marketplace and we get feedback we just don’t know.”

Former InStyle magazine sales director Tracy Harris is national advertising manager.

The first issue carries 22 ads, which Messenger is ‘pretty pleased’ with. Launch advertisers include CommBank, Audi, Mercedes and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Messenger said: “Print is the cornerstone of the business, but we’re not only going out in print. We’re going out on tablet from issue one, we have events, we have about 20 extensions we’ll be using the magazine to build off the back of, I won’t say what they are just yet but I think that’s what media has to do these days. You can’t only have a print magazine.”

Colin Delaney

Encore issue 5

This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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