This week we sat down with Seb White, Managing Editor at Mundial Magazine, to talk about the future of the magazine, the hugely successful, ‘GIANT – A Spotify Original‘ and his love for Hampton & Richmond Borough. Read on!
Hi Seb, thanks for joining us. How are you?
Not bad to be honest, like everyone else 2020 has been a rollercoaster but MUNDIAL is still going and our podcast GIANT is going from strength to strength and great fun to make. I’m also in the extremely privileged position that in my role as Media Director of Hampton & Richmond Borough Football I get to go to actual football matches with actual football being played, no fans obviously but I’m one of the very lucky ones.
For those who may not be aware, please can you give us a history lesson on Mundial, from past to present day?
MUNDIAL came about when a few of us decided to do a one-off magazine for the 2014 World Cup. We wanted to do something different to what was out there, something that melded the fanzine spirit and style of writing a lot us had been involved but making it all sing visually with high quality design, photography and illustrations. We sold out of our 2014 copies within a few weeks, then we returned to our day jobs. Then people started saying we should do another, and once brands started saying the same thing it made it a lot easier to justify the hours and hours of work, so we kept going. The magazine kept growing and as well as the magazine we started making social and video content for the likes of Adidas, Puma, Nike, Scotts, Ladbrokes and it’s just carried on form there. We certainly didn’t envisage we’d be where we are six years ago, and whilst it’s been an incredible amount of work, and not always easy it’s something we are all very proud of.
What’s your role within the brand?
Technically Head of Operations but being a small company we have to wear a number of different hats. I’m primarily working on the GIANT podcast at the moment which has been a big part of my day to day for the last 18 months or so. But as anyone who runs their own business knows if you don’t keep an eye on the smaller and dare I say less exciting bits you only make problems for yourself in the long run, even more so with the current uncertainty with COVID.
Did you have any other names lined up other than Mundial?
Not that I can remember, MUNDIAL means ‘global’ in Spanish and that was something we wanted to be upfront about from the start, the magazine was covering everything not just getting caught up in what was happening or had happened in the England. The fact that it’s also part of the name of an iconic pair of football boots is entirely coincidental…maybe.
What’s been the brands biggest achievement so far?
Tough question, very tough question, I mean how do you choose your favourite kid? I suppose personally speaking it has to be GIANT – a podcast was always something we wanted to do, but there was no point us doing the same as everyone else and have us all sat around a load of microphones saying things that were being said on so many good podcasts elsewhere. My background was in Sports documentaries, the company I used to work for made all those series on Sky Sports with the words ‘Greatest’ in title and apart from ESPN 30 for 30 there hadn’t really been too many people making audio documentaries. Fortunately for us someone at Spotify was a subscriber and after a lot of meetings and amazing support from them we made GIANT. I was personally incredibly proud of what we did with the first series but when it won a Gold and Silver award at the prestigious New York Festival Radio Awards alongside the likes of ESPN and the BBC I knew that I’d made something I can bore my grandkids about in years to come. That said every time I look at the 21 issues of the magazine on my office book shelf it does always make me smile, again I’ll be showing the grandkids them when I’m older.
How has COVID effected the brand?
Like everyone we’ve had to reassess, our Issue 21 which was was our most in-depth yet came out a week before official lockdown so thousands of copies were left sat on shelves. So we had to press pause on the print version whilst we took stock and streamlined across the whole business.
Was it a tough decision to go online only?
We’ve had to let a couple of people go so that was obviously tougher, but yes it’s been central to our existence ever since we started. This year has shown nothing can be taken for granted, so we’d be foolish to make any promises but it’s very much a ‘pause’ and we will try and restart when things are more stable.
Already looking forward to it coming back! What’s the most rewarding aspect of working for yourself?
I initially thought it would be being able to spend a bit more time with my Daughter and Wife, but let’s just say I’ve subsequently found out starting a company and keeping it going isn’t necessarily conducive to having more time to do other stuff. I suppose the main benefit is working with your best mates. I’m extremely fortunate, that I enjoy ‘going to work’ and it’s something I make sure I remind myself a lot even when things are tough.
Where does your passion for non-league come from?
I started going to Yeovil Town every other week as a kid, we were in the GM Vauxhall Conference at the time and I’ve just always felt at home in that environment. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved seeing my boyhood club rise and rise and eventually reach and play in the second tier of English Football even if it was just one season. However the change in off the field priorities that brings is so hard to abide, particularly when combined with a pair of absolute old twats who bled our club dry and forced me, my brother, my Dad and Granddad away from our club. My Granddad got ill in his later years and petty as it might seem I blame the powers that be of the club for depriving me and him and the rest of my family going to the match together towards the end, that’s something I can never forgive those responsible for.
So my Saturday afternoons had a big hole, and I started going to watch Hampton & Richmond Borough in the 6th tier as it’s my local club, and you could drink a pint whilst watching some admittedly decent football. I quickly rediscovered my love and passion for the game and what it means to people, and 5 years later I’m the Media Director.
As luck would have it we faced Yeovil last season in the FA Trophy and if I’m being honest I wanted HRBFC to beat my boyhood club and was genuinely gutted when they didn’t, they stuffed us to be fair! But it exorcised some demons going back to Huish Park (the aforementioned old twats no longer in charge helped) and I still have loads of mates who are Yeovil and I always check their score on a Saturday but I’m all in with the Beavers to be honest these days.
Are you missing fans being allowed at games?
As “essential staff” I can attend games and I’ve made it my absolute priority that we are as accessible as possible to those that are facially shut out from the communities that mean so much to them. We give the online programme away for free and thanks to some amazing work by brilliant volunteers we stream all our home games for free on YouTube.
Who’s been the best interview for Mundial, and the worst?
Tough one on interview, again I’ve been lucky to interview a lot of amazing footballers for Mundial and my previous job. For most inspirational and someone I could listen talk all day it would have to be Michelle Akers arguably the greatest ever women’s footballer. An hour sat on a upturned bucket on a horse farm in Alabama hearing her struggles was genuinely incredible. Worst, never like to be too mean and we’ve been lucky with MUNDIAL but in my old job Kevin Mirallas was… err… a real struggle.
If you could interview anyone in the world for the magazine, alive or dead, who would it be?
Eric Cantona cause his English is better than Diego’s. If I could speak Spanish then Diego. If you pushed me on someone who is no longer alive, I’d have to say Brian Clough.
Finally can you summarise Mundial in only 3 words?
If ‘self-deprecating’ is one word, then I’d say add ‘authentic’ and ‘passionate’