Media: Headliner - Wallpaper founder aims to up the ante in sports publishing/Tyler Brule is launching a fashion-conscious sports title, Anna Griffiths writes

Four years ago, in a local Hammersmith dive, Tyler Brule brandished the dummy for a new title he was launching called Wallpaper. Blissfully unaware that the magazine was to become a design and style bible, gracing the most elegant and chic coffee tables in urban living rooms, I wondered at the ambition and chutzpah of Brule, who looked as comfortable in the seedy pub as an orchid in a cabbage patch.

Four years ago, in a local Hammersmith dive, Tyler Brule brandished

the dummy for a new title he was launching called Wallpaper. Blissfully

unaware that the magazine was to become a design and style bible,

gracing the most elegant and chic coffee tables in urban living rooms, I

wondered at the ambition and chutzpah of Brule, who looked as

comfortable in the seedy pub as an orchid in a cabbage patch.



But the immaculately dressed Brule is not a conventional man in many

respects, and it’s this quality which has allowed his venture to bloom

and be bought by Time Inc for a mere pounds 1 million after four issues

and near-bankruptcy.



The new magazine about to emerge from Wallpaper’s newly refurbished

Swedish styled offices is something of a surprise. Project Tart will be

a sports title aimed at urban 25- to 45-year-olds who are more

interested in the shoes they run in than the pavements they pound. It

will tell them where they should ski, what equipment they should use,

and the latest sports health tips. Forget the six-pack, Brule says, this

is a stylish look at the sexy side of sport.



Brule expands on his aspirations for the new publication, which will

grace international magazine racks in March. ’The very essence of

existing sports magazines is making you feel bad about yourself. People

are craving information which doesn’t make you feel guilty. Tart will be

a very inclusive magazine, showing people a broad spectrum of

things.’



Tart’s conception was partly prompted by the demands of advertisers who

wanted a more glamorous sports environment in which to display their

wares.



MT Rainey, co-managing director of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, who

has worked with Brule, says: ’He doesn’t accept any conventional wisdom

and is very bold. He’s got such a broad, global perspective on things

because he’s Canadian and lives in Britain. His talent is spotting a

global trend or a global niche.’



One colleague jokes that Brule is ’rivalled only by Ginger Spice, Robbie

Williams and Peter Mandelson in the challenge to be Britain’s leading

self-publicist’.



Brule’s decision to leave Canada was sparked by his desire to work in

television and a job opportunity in London, working as a reporter for

the BBC programme, Reportage. ’All I wanted to do was be in TV,’ Brule

recalls. ’I wasn’t interested in print at all. I wanted to work for ABC

News in New York.’ He realised his ambition shortly after working for

the BBC when he got a job with ABC News as an associate producer on Good

Morning America.



Some time later he wound up as a reporter on Fox News, but soon became

disillusioned: ’It was low-grade stuff, doorstepping people who had

supposedly slept with Kevin Costner.’ He began to write for The Guardian

and his career in print journalism went from strength to strength.



Brule, who’s 31 years old, is clearly not one to sit still and has been

building up Wallpaper’s empire. Wallpaper itself is performing beyond

the market’s expectations with a circulation of 112,404 and generating

more than pounds 1 million in advertising for its next issue.



Brule has also set up an advertising consultancy, WINK, which includes

among its clients, Selfridges and Banana Republic. WINK has also

branched out into contract publishing through gaining the US contract

for RJ Reynolds Tobacco. Brule explains: ’With WINK we don’t take a

traditional agency approach to things. It’s a take it or leave it stance

- we don’t need the business. It’s almost an editorial approach.’



Not content with diversifying into advertising consultancy, Brule is

also getting ready to launch the Wallpaper website within the next six

weeks.



Brule’s maverick operation may seem at odds with the suits at Time Inc,

but up until now he has been left to his own devices. Richard Atkinson,

executive vice-president of Time, who negotiated the Time deal with

Wallpaper, says: ’Tyler’s venture (Wallpaper) made real money last year.

That helps get people, even the new chief financial officer, to take you

seriously. That earns you the right to do stuff like Tart.’



Looking sufficiently nonchalant, Brule says: ’We don’t rely on too many

people and we do run our own show, making our own decisions. I don’t toe

any company line. If I was sitting in New York doing Wallpaper it would

be a different bag.’



Let’s hope that Time Inc’s merger with AOL will not allow the now

extended ranks of men in suits to meddle with Brule’s flourishing

empire.



The Brule file

1989

BBC’s Reportage, reporter

1989

ABC News, associate producer

1990

Sky News, reporter

1991

Fox News, bureau chief

1992

Freelance for titles such as Elle, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Vibe

magazine

1996

Launches Wallpaper

1997

Wallpaper bought by Time Inc

2000

Launches Project Tart



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