At Time Out we are delighted to sponsor BMP’s Thirty Years of
Bright Ideas evening at the Albert Hall. It’s an appropriate
partnership, not just because we also celebrated our 30th birthday this
month, but also because we’ve had a long working relationship. In 1974,
BMP conducted some in-magazine research for us and then took it a stage
further by booking some of the first colour spread ads - for Southern
Comfort - to appear in the title.
Time Out’s founder, Tony Elliott, started the magazine in 1968. He
borrowed pounds 75 from his aunt and produced a black-and-white,
single-sheet folded poster listing a few dozen venues.
The idea was unique. It sold itself.
Now a 200-page-plus, full-colour magazine - widely imitated but never
bettered - employing close to 100 staff, Time Out has adopted some of
the ad industry’s techniques. BMP sells products brilliantly: everything
from beer to Barclays. We sell ideas: everything from fringe theatre to
As Elliott puts it: ’The cover is a poster for the magazine.’ Like ad
agencies, we’ve used pastiche: cut-price dining sold as Cheap Eatz in
the shape (allegedly) of a well-known tin of beans; we featured Prague
as the ’destination for a new generation’ using Pepsi’s typeface; cinema
references have included a ’Reservoir Togs’ homage using seven celebs
striding across a gatefold sleeve to illustrate a guide to suits or,
more simply, Eddie Izzard in a Clockwork Orange-style bowler hat.
Strong graphics are an integral part of our style: thus a rolled-up note
snorting a Time Out logo made of white powder was used to illustrate a
drugs special; a Prince exclusive was announced simply by using his logo
in white on black.
We’ve had our share of gimmicks too: alternative covers for the same
issue; a Halloween cover with a life-size ’Robert DeNirostein’ cut-out
There’s been controversy: Tricky as Jesus Christ, Marilyn Manson as the
Virgin Mary. And, of course, as ever, sex. But always inventively, as
when Weird Sex boasted four alternative covers and a gallery from 100
Thirty years on, Time Out isn’t just a magazine, it’s a brand. Our city
guides, published in association with Penguin Books, currently number 17
and more are on the way. We have counterparts in New York (Time Out New
York) and Rome (Time Out Roma) and a weekly insert in Pariscope (Time
Out Paris). Our sister titles in London include the style bible, i-D,
Modern Painters and Kids Out, and we publish guides for visitors and
students, to eating and drinking, films, shopping, pubs and bars.
What Time Out does is simple: we provide information clearly, simply,
comprehensively and without fear or favour. And we do it for some of the
greatest cities on earth.