Monocle’s Tyler Brûlé on Making Money with Print

Tyler Brûlé managed to create a thriving media business centered on the Monocle title during a time when other publishers were wringing their hands in angst over digital and the “death of print.” He recently shared some insights with Peter Roper of Marketing Magazine on the “dos” and the “do nots” of making a go as a media brand.

“I guess one of the main things is I feel this slightly-drawn-out debate surrounding print versus digital needs a bit of an end mark,” Brûlé answered when asked what point he was hoping to get across at the recent Vivid Ideas conference in Australia.

“It’s worth underlining a couple of the realities that are starting to hit home with media companies around the world,” Brûlé continued. “Digital is not exactly new. We’ve been living with it, both good and bad, for a long time now, and it’s probably time for a few publishers, and a few media execs, to start telling it like it is.”

“When I say, ‘Telling it like it is’, that means stop looking over the horizon and seducing people into thinking that digital is going to be the saviour while also running down what continues to be the prime asset for the company.”

He knows of what he speaks. Brûlé has successfully leverage Monocle into a true media brand, with solid footing in print, digital, radio and brick and mortar. He likens the modern media brand to the Playboy empire back of last century.

“I’m sort of in two minds about how much one has to extend their business, because yes, you can get involved in all kinds of areas because, sure, we have a nice retail business and our conference, et cetera, but I would argue that most publishers of scale are in that territory in one degree or another,” Brûlé explains.

“They may not operate bricks-and-mortar stores like we do, but a lot of people like to say that it’s new, but I always say to look back to the glory days of Playboy in the ’50s and ’60s. They were very much in the business of building Playboy townhouses and clubs, and doing all kinds of things that publishers are doing today.

“Some of that stuff that we point to as being new is not that new. It’s just that young journalists weren’t around in the ’60s or even early ’70s to remember it,” Brûlé continues.

There’s something very reassuring in Brûlé’s depiction of the modern media brand landscape. He’s managed to transcend the breathless hysteria created by the digital disruption of print, and calmly goes on to prove that print – well done print, to be precise – remains a viable business opportunity. And he looks like a million bucks doing it.