How SLEEK mag found its creative vision in lockdown

SLEEK CEO Christian Bracht on redefining his magazine’s vision during a pandemic.

SLEEK CEO Christian Bracht. Image credit: Supplied
SLEEK CEO Christian Bracht. Image credit: Supplied

SLEEK magazine had just published its second quarterly issue and was gearing up for the next issue when the pandemic hit earlier this year.

The lockdown grinded the magazine’s upcoming photoshoots to a halt, Berlin-based Bracht said.

“We had great pre-bookings for that issue, it looked really amazing, but by mid-March, we were at zero bookings because they all canceled,” he said.

Not to be deterred, Bracht decided to use the time to redefine the vision for the magazine.

“COVID-19 gave me the time to rethink everything in my business life, I had a couple of weeks to think about it and to redefine things,” he said.

“We fully concentrate now on creativity, our vision statement is ‘SLEEK channels creativity’, which means we inspire people to be better at their job.”

While the Sleek team quickly shifted to home office in March, Bracht has since brought back in-person editorial meetings every Monday to help with the flow of creativity.

“You must know the media business is a creative business and it is hard…(when) everybody works remotely,” he said.

“To get to a very creative product, you need a couple of people and different opinions, you need discussions.”

Bracht said photoshoots are also back to the point where “it is actually more or less before the crisis”, with the exception that everyone now wears masks and shoots are restricted to within Europe.

“We will work as we worked before COVID-19…but not so much in the United States,” he said.

Photoshoots are largely back to normal, with a few exceptions, Bracht says. Image credit: Rawpixel/iStock
Photoshoots are largely back to normal, with a few exceptions, Bracht says. Image credit: Rawpixel/iStock

Bracht took the time over April and May to call some of the big brands that his magazine works with closely and said those with a stable German customer base were faring well.

“All the brands that were related to business travelers and tourists, so premium and luxury tourists, are having problems and all the other luxury brands that have a very stable German customer base, they’re secure actually,” he said.

“More or less, some of them are on the same level as last year, Chanel is a very good example, they are fine actually…because they have a very stable customer base in Germany.”

While strong luxury brands may be in a steady position, it remains to be seen how airlines will fare long-term. Bracht said he would often fly up to 80 times within a normal year, but with the pandemic still in full swing, he has embraced alternative modes of travel, including trains and limousines.

“In Germany, I will travel more by train and actually…I tried a Blacklane limousine,” he said.

“I was sitting alone in the car and it gave me a secure feeling…it cost a little bit more than the first-class ticket on a train but it was a great trip actually.”