The former food editor at Murdoch Magazines’ Marie Claire, Donna Hay had a trademark style of simple recipes and clean, minimalist photography. When Murdoch’s denied her the opportunity to open a magazine under her own name, she went to News Corp with a proposal and a mock-up. They said yes. Donna Hay magazine was the first of a new wave of food magazines. The cover of the launch issue (above) featured a simple cup of ice cream.
Donna Hay magazine was just the beginning of an empire under Donna Hay’s personal brand. She went on to develop a best-selling range of cookbooks, cookware and homewares. The cookbooks and magazines, with their distinctive design style and emphasis on making it all look simple, caught the imagination of readers.
By 2015 she had released 24 cookbooks, selling more than four million copies worldwide. Her books had been translated into nine languages. The Donna Hay iPad app was also the number one selling digital magazine in Australia and she had her own television series.
In 2018 the end came for the print edition of Donna Hay magazine. The 100th issue, a special souvenir edition, was the last. The licensing agreement with News Ltd. ceased and the magazine is now online only. When the agreement ended Hay had been producing six issues of her eponymous magazine and four issues of a spinoff title Light and Fresh every year, as well as writing a weekly column for News Corp’s weekend papers.
Reports of the split did not reveal the reasons behind it. However, the demise of the print magazine may well have been a result of brand rationalisation by News Corp, which had acquired full ownership of the competitive delicious. magazine in 2015.