And Just Like That

- Michael McHugh Editor-in-Chief michael@mindfood.com Instagram@michael.mchugh.art

Do you remember buying your first issue of MiNDFOOD? I was speaking to a longtime reader recently who was reminiscin­g about the very day and what she was doing when she bought the first edition of MiNDFOOD. Other readers have shared with me that they first saw MiNDFOOD in their hairdresse­r’s and subscribed immediatel­y. Others had it passed on by a friend, or saw it for sale at the airport as they were heading away on holiday. Or perhaps the cover photo and a coverline caught your attention at a supermarke­t check-out. Wherever you bought your very first issue, and kept buying MiNDFOOD, thank you.

A big ‘thank you’ must also go to all the staff of MiNDFOOD who over the years have been passionate and have maintained the quality and depth of experience of content across both the magazine and MiNDFOOD.com. To all our advertiser­s, distributo­rs, printers and retailers, thank you.

Fifteen years ago, our 2008 launch edition covered with Scarlett Johansson. At that time Johansson was a global ambassador for the aid and developmen­t agency Oxfam. She was also about to star, with Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, in the movie The Other Boleyn Girl from the popular book by Philippa Gregory. The cover feature was about Johansson’s time spent in Bangladesh with Oxfam. A month after appearing on the cover, Johansson was engaged to Ryan Reynolds and was married in September of that year. Since then she has been married three times, had two children and appeared in many blockbuste­r and art house movies.

It was a strong, beautiful cover and although some retailers saw the word ‘food’ in the masthead and merchandis­ed the new magazine MiNDFOOD in the food section, sales were strong and beat our expected budget. We did however need to educate newsagents where the magazine should be ranged on newsstands and it actually took years for some of the store owners to understand that they would attract more sales of the magazine if it wasn’t sitting in amongst food magazine titles.

It was another 12 years before we covered again with Johansson. We had tried a couple of times over those 12 years for cover interviews but timing was never quite right until we covered again with her for our Summer 2020 double.

By now Johansson had become the highest-paid actress in the world, and she spoke to us about growing up in the spotlight, anti-Semitism and her latest role in Taika Waititi’s movie, Jojo Rabbit, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Our best-selling issue has always been a surprise to me and every time we cover with her, sales have spiked. It then made it a very easy decision when choosing who to put on our 15th year birthday issue cover. None other than the bestsellin­g cover star in 15 years – Anne Hathaway. When we first covered with her in a cover colour palette of red, white and blue, she was about to win the Oscar for Les Misérables. Our number one-selling magazine cover star at the time was Meryl Streep. Over the years, Streep has done exceptiona­lly well for us but we haven’t covered with her for many years.

Helen Mirren has also been a cover star with fantastic sales who only just appeared again on our Christmas cover last year. She has appeared four times on MiNDFOOD and I had hairdresse­rs telling me women were bringing in their issues of her on the cover saying, ‘I want her haircut’. It seems English actresses are popular, with Emma Thompson selling incredibly well also with five covers.

Celebrity cook Nigella Lawson has always sold well for us when she has graced the cover and seems to be our readers’ favourite foodie. Lawson herself first discovered the magazine when she heard two women talking about a new magazine called MiNDFOOD when she was visiting Sydney. She was about to fly back to the UK and bought a copy of the new magazine at the airport.

A change due to circumstan­ces that we needed to make – and it was a gamble at the time – was during the COVID years when we needed to rethink our cover strategy. At this time when the world was in lockdown, cinemas were closed so covering with a movie star was not really much of an option. What to do, as since our launch in 2008, we had always covered with a star who had a new film being released?

Our idea was simple. As cities and countries across the world shut down, we were all looking for answers and guidance so we made the decision to cover with people who were wise. Wisdom was our new currency – which sounds great when you’re

holding staff meetings via Zoom and deciding on this new strategy, but who in the world was wise and generally loved by readers?

It didn’t take long to arrive at David Attenborou­gh. We have traditiona­lly lost more than 25% of normal cover sales when we cover with a male celebrity, so it’s something we stopped doing after the first couple of years. Even George Clooney, pre-marriage to Amal Alamuddin, didn’t grab the expected increase in sales. I think it was Johnny Depp who was our best-selling male cover star.

We had interviewe­d David Attenborou­gh many times before in MiNDFOOD; in year one of COVID, he appeared on the June 2020 cover. The then 94- year-old spoke about what a post-COVID world could be like. The headline ‘David Attenborou­gh’s vision for the future: Fresh Thinking and how to make a difference’ said it all and that was the biggest-selling issue of the year.

The following year Attenborou­gh returned on the September 2021 cover with the headline ‘A Force Of Good’ and the quote: ‘How to Preserve Our Perfect Planet.’ Again, a spectacula­r cover and the year’s best. We followed up with environmen­talist Jane Goodall: ‘Force of Nature – Her Mission Of Hope to Save The World’. Again, another high-selling edition. We also covered with food waste warrior Ronni Kahn under the headline ‘Harvest Of Hope’, which was another great sale away from the traditiona­l movie star. Our wisdom cover strategy seemed to work.

So things certainly changed and with this new momentum of trialling different covers, we started looking at themed cover stories like the PSYCHOLOGY OF COLOUR issue we published in September 2022 with Irish actor Saoirse Ronan. The coverline ‘Boost Your Mood And Brighten Your World – The Symbolism And Emotions Of Colour’ saw every page in the issue with a range of different colours. From the food pages to the health pages and everything in between, there was a different story and idea around the theme of colour. Readers and advertiser­s alike responded well to this innovative issue.

For 15 years, I have written this editorial and shared so much with you, our readers – from the different stories and features in the magazine and online and how they came together, to personal stories from my own life. The start to this year however has been perhaps my saddest.

In January, my sister Carol died suddenly. She was a huge fan of MiNDFOOD and proudly announced to me when we launched that she had bought a subscripti­on! I told her I could give her a copy, but she was insistent that she support us in our venture. She even appeared in the magazine as she was a primary school teacher and her school had started a community garden that we featured. Cal was always so loyal and it was good to pick her brains about the stories she loved or celebritie­s she wanted to see on the cover. “I just love it, it’s perfect, don’t change a thing!” she would say. And so we didn’t. To feel this support from my big sister gave me much confidence.

A few weeks after Carol’s death, my father-in-law Basil, a great man, passed away. He had been a huge support to both Michelle and me in creating and building MiNDFOOD and his passing has had an enormous impact on our family. He was a solid, dependable, safe sounding board and we would discuss many things with him about the business. Basil, too, appeared in the pages of MiNDFOOD and was actually in the launch issue in a story about Seasonal Solutions, an initiative supporting workers from Vanuatu in New Zealand. Basil is this issue’s Smart Thinker on page 144 as he had such an extraordin­ary life and achieved so much by helping so many people within the horticultu­re industry.

So this, our 15th year birthday issue, is dedicated to both Carol and Basil. They would be most proud of what we have achieved in 15 years. We started MiNDFOOD around our dining room table at home. Our three children were then all at school and we seemed to be juggling budgets, layouts, meals and homework around that table as we pulled together MiNDFOOD’s first issue and dreamt what it might potentiall­y become. There were many risks launching during the Global Financial Crisis, and so we have always been very battle-ready from the start. Over the 15 years, whether it be COVID, earthquake­s, floods, fire or recession – you name it – it has never stopped us from bringing the world of Smart Thinking and MiNDFOOD to you, our readers.

On our launch issue cover 15 years ago, we carried a quote from Sir Edmund Hillary: “People do not decide to become extraordin­ary. They decide to accomplish extraordin­ary things.” We aim to create extraordin­ary content at MiNDFOOD. Enjoy this edition; like every other issue, it comes with much love.

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 ?? ?? From top: Scarlett Johansson was our very first cover star; Anne Hathaway is the most popular cover with readers; Our Helen Mirren cover inspired women to copy her hairdo; Actor Meryl Streep is a perennial favourite, as is Emma Thompson.
From top: Scarlett Johansson was our very first cover star; Anne Hathaway is the most popular cover with readers; Our Helen Mirren cover inspired women to copy her hairdo; Actor Meryl Streep is a perennial favourite, as is Emma Thompson.
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 ?? ?? From top: We covered with Sir David Attenborou­gh when COVID-19 hit; Nigella Lawson is our most popular ‘foodie’ cover; Modern-day heroes Jane Goodall and Ronni Kahn were hits with readers; Our first Colour Edition featured Saoirse Ronan.
From top: We covered with Sir David Attenborou­gh when COVID-19 hit; Nigella Lawson is our most popular ‘foodie’ cover; Modern-day heroes Jane Goodall and Ronni Kahn were hits with readers; Our first Colour Edition featured Saoirse Ronan.

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