Victory Lap: 20/20’s Cover for the Ages, and Baltimore Mag’s Small But Mighty Video Team
A closer look at two of this year's Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award winners.
B2B — Best Cover Design (25K – 100K circulation)
Jobson Healthcare Information
The annual Vision Expo East conference, held each spring at the Javits Center in New York, is always a major event on the editorial calendar for 20/20, a monthly magazine serving the eyewear industry.
This past year, though, 20/20 wanted to take things to the next level.
“Many months before, in October, I started to get wind that one of the eyewear manufacturers was debuting five new brands at Expo East, so we started to put things in motion,” James Spina, VP and editor-in-chief, tells Folio:. “We’ve done double covers in the past. But we were looking to push it beyond that. I’ve seen some threes and fours, but it just got into my head that I wanted to do a five.”
It was an expensive proposition—creating five separate covers requires a special kind of photo shoot—and one that was logistically onerous, due to the need to procure five prototypes. Eventually, Marchon got wind that their new launches were being featured, something atypical for 20/20 but ultimately necessary to pull it all off.
“They tipped off the press, specifically NBC News, about it. The style editors from the network then approached us to make a video about the cover shoot.”
The resulting video played in thousands of New York City taxis during the week of Vision Expo East, providing 20/20 with unprecedented publicity.
“We’ve never had exposure like that before,” adds Spina. “We’re still exhausted from how excited we were.”
No word yet on how 20/20 will one-up the five-cover set for next year’s Expo issue, but for now Spina is content to enjoy the attention while resisting the temptation to repeat by selling out or tipping off manufacturers.
“We have an enlightened publisher who knows that you build integrity by giving editorial enough rope,” Spina says. “I’ve always been lucky to be in an environment that understands that the impact of a magazine and the advertising support it gets is so tied into how well you can maintain your editorial integrity. I’ve been here 20 years and no one has ever told me what to put on a cover.”
Consumer — Best Use of Video
While not a total stranger to video, Baltimore Magazine took a major step into uncharted territory in 2015, bringing production in-house for the first time.
Since then, digital editor Jess Mayhugh and digital and social media producer Meredith Herzing, alongisde freelancer Justine Hulsey, have formed the three-person team responsible for conceiving, coordinating, shooting, and producing at least piece of video content each month.
Subjects are as wide-ranging as they are colorful, from an afternoon with fly-fishing legend Lefty Freh, to a behind-the-scenes tour of the 135-year-old Otterbein’s Bakery, to “Oyster on the Street,” a seafood-inspired take on the popular Billy Eichner program.
“We look at the print magazine and we pick out a feature story, often the cover story, thinking about how we can enhance the content online,” Mayhugh tells Folio:. “I always try to think about what our readers would really like to experience, and where they can’t go.”
On top of the challenges inherent to creating high-quality video in addition to their regular responsibilities, the experience has been a learning curve for the team given their admittedly limited experience in the area.
“We really were just learning as we went,” adds Mayhugh. “I think that’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in a lot of new media; it’s like, we didn’t really train for this. I think that’s why our video has improved a lot over time; we’re learning from our mistakes.”
Mayhugh credits Herzing, who studied photojournalism, with a great knack for visual framing. Herzing in turn credits Mayhugh with sussing out which interview subjects might work particularly well on-camera, a process that is not always straightforward.
Mayhugh and Herzing have found particular success with food-related content, something that has always had a prominent place in the magazine’s pages.
A July video about the iconic neon Domino Sugars sign overlooking Baltimore’s inner harbor, which was picked up by the brand and shared with its legions of social followers, provides proof that even the smallest staff can harness video for powerful results.