Notebook: 20 January 2016 | MAGAZINES
I’ve been teaching journalism students about magazine publishing – reader profile, branding, content, editorial design, advertising, distribution and so on. They had to come up with a brand idea that could be rolled out across a magazine, website and social media. One group decided on a student mag that would focus on eating and drinking on a budget. After a brain-storming session to pick a name for their publication, they came up with the snappy title of Bread and Water which seemed to perfectly match the jokey, tongue-in-cheek style of their content. It immediately made me think of Eat Soup magazine. Anybody remember that one? Launched in 1996 off the back of IPC’s Loaded magazine, Eat Soup was a food, drink and travel magazine aimed at a typical ‘men-behaving-badly’ type male reader. It carried the brilliant tag line, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” and it had the same pioneering, swashbuckling, crash-bang-wallop style of its sister title Loaded with busy and energetic layouts. Contributors included Will Self, Keith Floyd, Tom Conran and Len Deighton.
Eat Soup was the brainchild of the editor David Lancaster who approached IPC with the name and idea. He had previously worked on MotorCycle International and Top Gear in the early/mid 90s with Jeremy Clarkson and Quentin Willson. The Art Director was Loaded’s Stephen Read. The magazine was initially bi-monthly but IPC, keen to build on the success of Loaded, soon turned it into a monthly publication but this was probably its undoing – doubling print and content costs and forcing it to run before it could walk – it needed time to grow. Sadly the magazine lasted for little over a year before IPC pulled the plug – they were unable to sell enough copies and struggled to attract advertisers.
David Lancaster left IPC to work at The Times and he later co-founded Restaurant magazine. He now teaches at Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design. Stephen Read went on to help launch the alternative and award-winning GolfPunk magazine in 2004. He now works as a photographer and film maker.
Eat Soup is still fondly remembered by many people in the media, and by chefs. It rode a lively wave of vibrant UK magazine publishing launches in the late 1990s, unearthing lots of gastronomical delights and home-grown cooking talent along the way, despite its short life.