For its 10th anniversary art issue, W Magazine features two social media darlings on its cover: Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. But rather than a typical celebrity photo shoot, the pair are wearing prosthetic noses and animal ears, against a highly retouched background.

The cover and photo shoot, created by Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, two LA-based artists known for their digital influenced work, was inspired by Snapchat.

The ephemeral photo app is a key component to the magazine’s latest issue, which explores the intersection of art, galleries, museums, and fashion through a social media lense. The publisher has launched a 48-hour pop-up channel within Snapchat Discover, especially for the issue.

“We were inspired by Snapchat and what you see there to tell a story about what Ryan Trecartin describes as the Disneyfication of the world,” said W’s editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi.

Seventeen pieces have been created especially for Snapchat and include text, photos, video and GIFs. Some of the content will only appear on the app, including an interview with artist Yung Jake, who’s known for his celebrity emoji art, original poster art that users can screenshot, and behind the scenes footage with Jenner and Hadid.

The other stories are Snapchat-specific versions of longer videos and text articles that will also live on W’s website and be printed in the magazine. The distribution of content, repurposed for multiple platforms is a key part of W’s digital strategy.

Emoji Art

A screenshot of one of W’s Snapchat stories.

While the pop-up channel is a first for W, the glossy is following in the footsteps of a number of other publishers and fashion brands. Burberry has previously used pop-up channels to advertise new products, and magazine giant Hearst, which has run pop-up channels for Seventeen magazine, now wants to do the same for its brands like Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. The wider trend, of course, is to get content and brands in front of younger eyes, although already 70 percent of W’s digital audience are millennials, between 18 and 34.

“Curated content for our readers where they’re consuming content is the total goal,” said W’s publisher and chief revenue officer Lucy Kriz. “And the ability for us to reach millions of new eyeballs of new millennials is incredible exposure for our brand.”

W’s Snapchat strategy beyond the pop-up usually consists of celebrity takeovers at events. For the pop-up channels’ content, both digital and print editorial teams combined to create the stories, which are highly produced videos and articles, Tonchi said. The stories are fast, upbeat and include music and playful text, which reflects Snapchat’s nature and would appeal to a millennial audience.

Experimenting with a pop-up channel is a smart move for W, according to visual intelligence platform Dash Hudson’s founder and CEO Thomas Rankin. The publisher has a strong brand presence he said, and a pop-up channel can be treated as an experiment.

“Pop-ups create a lot of excitement and the fact they’re only around for a certain length of time will drive demand,” he said. “There’s a sense of fear of missing out.”

And while new eyeballs are only a good thing, he doesn’t believe it’s about driving sales. “I don’t think it’s about having someone go and buy the magazine, but people being more broadly aware of content and then wanting to engage with W’s content wherever it is.”


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