Instyle will relaunch in Australia via an independent publisher, with Justine Cullen at the helm

Independent advertising agency Bashful Group is expanding into publishing with the launch of independent publisher True North, which will see former Elle Australia editor Justine Cullen take the helm as chief content officer.

Bashful Group chief executive Simon Bookallil told Mumbrella that the new division will operate separately from other companies under the Bashful Group umbrella, but said he was unable to confirm that the group also had acquired the digital license rights from Instyle.

“We believe independent publishing has a bright future, focusing on both digital and real-world experiences,” Bookallil said. “We believe we know what brands want and need from business partners and how we can bring creativity to the publishing industry in the future. The time has come, there is no better time to start this business.

He said he believes there are “tremendous opportunities for publishing that can reach passionate and motivated audiences”, while developing commercial and sophisticated content that is “more nimble” than what exists.


“True North’s goal is to work directly with brands on creating purely commercial content or posts, as well as launching its own consumer-focused posts,” Bookallil said. “The company will deliver premium digital experiences, must-see events, and our focus is on enabling premium content. Digital first. Events, awards, collaborations, podcasts, and we have some exciting announcements that we hope to be able to share with everyone soon.

Cullen admitted to Mumbrella that she thinks this will be a real opportunity for True North to work with legacy brands, and that part of the appeal is that it’s not a legacy publisher.

“Being an independent publisher means we can be a lot more nimble and get it right from the start. For me, that was really exciting because we worked on that first launch to build a site in a way that was very different from the way you would create a site at a major publishing house,” she said.

“Being independent means we can be much more nimble, but also really invest in what we think is really important for each individual brand, and not be beholden to traditional ways of doing things. It’s a really exciting opportunity to look at publishing and reinvent it for the world we live in today.

In terms of commercial partnerships, Cullen was unable to share more details until launch in a few weeks, but said there are “lots of exciting things happening” which she will share when she can.

“We are able to envision new ways to partner with our customers and our advertisers. It’s really about partnering with new verticals, new businesses, different ways of seeing how we can collaborate with our partners, and having a lot of flexibility to play and create new verticals and categories.

Bashful Group, is a group of companies, the creative advertising agency, Bashful, which works with OPSM, Go Daddy, P&O Cruises, Laser Clinics, Destination NSW, Zimmerman and The Star, while also owning luxury designers and of fashion. agency, Smile, which works with brands such as Witchery, Shona Joy, Ksubi, etc.

In addition to these agencies, the Bashful Group owns a 50% stake in the public relations agency TMC, which specializes in categories such as fashion, beauty, luxury and lifestyle, with brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Guess, Sportscraft, Mermaid Hair, etc.

“There are so many different branches of this business that can help us in a really modern way to speak to an audience, it’s very exciting,” Cullen concluded.