The Top Gear magazine global network has just concluded its two-day conference in Hong Kong, four years after the very first one was held in Mumbai, India. This time, your favorite motoring publication has grown to 23 international editions--including the Philippines, Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bulgaria, India, Romania, and the Middle East, to name a few--with another two arriving in the next year.
Conducting the conference was the UK team consisting of Adam Waddell, Top Gear managing director; James Hewes, head of international development at BBC Magazines; Charlie Turner, Top Gear UK creative director and currently acting editor; Simon Carrington, Top Gear UK publisher; Paul Owen, head of TopGear.com; and Tom Ford, Top Gear UK contributing editor (yes, the former Fifth Gear host).
Foremost on the list of information shared is the fact that Top Gear is now officially the leading automotive media brand in the world. According to Waddell, Top Gear has become so popular that it is now the sixth most downloaded TV series on the iTunes Store--an impressive feat when you consider the relentless stream of stupid reality shows that America is foisting on us. Meanwhile, the main edition of the magazine, according to Carrington, has been the best-selling car magazine in the UK for 17 straight years.
Including the international editions, Hewes said that Top Gear magazine has now reached six million copies worldwide, by far the biggest total for any car-magazine brand. Now, factor in the reach of the individual websites of the various magazine editions and you truly have an all-encompassing automotive media entity.
Waddell attributed Top Gear's phenomenal success to its brand values, which are "humor, irreverence, integrity and mischief." And the Top Gear hosts (and editors) "are not heroes," he added. "They're just regular guys who don't take themselves too seriously." Also, Waddell noted that Top Gear is not part of the car industry--that while other motoring TV shows and car magazines tend to report from the inside of the industry, Top Gear is outside looking in. "We're one with our viewers and readers, and we use their perspective."
Throughout the conference, several interviews with industry executives were shown. All of them naturally heaped praises on the Top Gear brand, but one comment in particular stood out. Tim Holmes, the communications and public affairs director of Ford UK, declared that Top Gear is quite simply "a force of nature." Nice compliment, if you ask us.
Photos by the author
Illustration by Raynand Olarte