B title goes A-list

Say goodbye to b there and b spirit, the European and long-haul versions, respectively, of Brussels Airlines’ inflight magazine. From July these have been replaced with a single, new magazine, b inspired.

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The addition of five story-teaser tabs at the top gives a newsstand feel, a bit Guardian-ish, but more importantly presents passengers with multiple content hits poking up out of the seat pocket. We decided to go with a quirky cover concept that would reflect the vision and branding of the airline itself, and it was agreed that we would offer two covers each month, one for the European network and one for the long-haul routes, using two images from the same story.

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Inside, the idea was to give the new magazine a stronger Belgian identity, so we created a new front section called Belgitude, which is a bunch of newsy shorts on a Belgian theme, plus a column from Antwerp and a profile of a Belgian personality (no, it’s not Jean-Claude Van Damme). Previously the front section of the magazine was rigidly sectioned with pages devoted to hotels, food, ecology etc – we’ve got rid of all this and replaced it with something far looser, a more free-form diary section that is picture led and totally flexible in format, and which we’ve called Perspective.

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Also in perspective is a four-page city guide. The rest of the city guides, which used to jam up the magazine, have migrated online, where readers can find guides to the entire network – which is a good way of driving traffic between the printed magazine and the website. Our regular business writer, Boyd Farrow, has been promoted to a spot mid-book, where he files his dispatches from the global frontline: for our relaunch issue he wonders why we can do anything with technology except make other technology work:

Yet there is one big difference between [Jack] Bauer’s world and ours: spies are never scuppered by their technology. Indeed, whatever their assigned task – producing the “schematics” of any building in the world, say, or disabling any security camera – they can do it instantly in just three keystrokes. They can unclog the photocopier in four.

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For the cover story, author of the bestselling Where Chefs Eat Joe Warwick interviewed Albert Adria of elBulli fame, who has almost single-handedly transformed the once-shabby neighbourhood of El Poble Sec in Barcelona into a serious foodie destination with five of his inimitable restaurants. Deputy editor Maresa Manara visited a vineyard in Tuscany where a group of women are creating some excellent wines in a very macho industry and Graeme Virtue joined some wannabe Jedi warriors in training at a lightsaber school in Belgium.

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Design-wise, art director Marten Sealby wanted to simply things with a cleaner look – so more white space and wider columns, with fewer fonts and less showy headlines. This allows the photography to really shine and we are committed to shooting as many of the features as we can afford.

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The first issue dropped on to our desks today and we are pretty pleased with the result; after a lot of brainstorming, wrangling, hard graft, blood, sweat and tears, we are confident this new magazine will be a hit with Brussels Airlines passengers. (Posted by JaneWright)

Ink London Creative Awards: Best Cover

Here at Ink London we’re hosting our inaugural annual Creative Awards. One of the two categories is “best cover”. We have 15 magazines up for consideration and each team has been asked to select its favourite cover produced for that title over the last 12 months (July 2012 to June 2013). The nominations are below and the results of our internal voting will be posted first week of July.

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APEX, February 2013

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bSpirit, Jan-Feb 2013, relaunch issue

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bthere, August 2012

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easyJet Traveller, December 2012, the knitted cover

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Germanwings, 2013, April-May-June 2013

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Gulf Life, December 2012, the Paris paper-cut hat

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J Magazine, April-May 2013, the ‘you rang m’lord’ issue

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JetAway, July-August 2012, the big lemon issue

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Let’s Go with Ryanair, June 2013, the hot 25 issue

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Metropolitan, April 2013, the sexy lips issue

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N by Norwegian, April 2013, the Scream in a bed issue

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Privatair, Winter 2012, the Six Feet Under issue

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Thomas Cook Travel, summer 2013, the ice lolly issue

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Voyager, August 2012, the Paul Merton issue

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Wizz, April-May 2013, the Warsaw burger issue

Posted by AndrewH

A fine spirit

bSpirit, the Africa-centric magazine published by Ink on behalf of Brussels Airlines, has just had a revamp. It’s always been a difficult prospect: try finding a regular source of upbeat, airline-friendly stories from the likes of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kigali in Rwanda. Plus beautiful photos to go with? And a design that accommodates text in three languages?

Editor Piet van Niekerk and art director Dan di Paolo have pulled it off with aplomb. Stories are positive without being bland – a piece on a new trans-Gambia bridge connecting north and south Senegal; a report from the Pan-African film festival in Ouagadougou; and an interview with an actor worth publishing for his name alone: Telley Savalas Otieno. And, yes, he was named after who you think he was.

The design deals with the tri-language issue efficiently – it’s never going to be pretty but it is easy to navigate. Some of the photography is excellent – and where no photography was available, Dan has compensated with some very fine illustration. I particularly like the images from the film festival, one of which graces the cover. I love the patterned edging strip, which wraps around the spine, and which is from a fabric traditional to Burkino Faso, where the film festival took place. The strip will be a feature of future issues with the pattern changing each time to stay appropriate to the cover image. It’s going to look great lined up on the shelf. (Posted by AndrewH)

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