LONDON: Facebook has always maintained that it is not a publisher, yet that has not stopped the social media giant from quietly launching its own print magazine.

Called Grow, the quarterly magazine is aimed at business executives and began to be distributed at Heathrow Airport’s first-class lounge and similar locations in the UK earlier this month.

First reported by FIPP, the media trade association, the large format magazine, which also exists digitally, is described as a “thought leadership platform” that focuses on people, companies and trends “challenging the status quo”.

The launch edition’s cover features Oscar Olsson, a creative director at Swedish clothing retailer H&M, who is described as a “millennial whisperer”, while other articles include a focus on the start-up scene in Paris as well as the spirits industry.

Grow’s editor-in-chief is Kate Maxwell, a former journalist at Condé Nast who also has worked as the editorial director at Soho House, the upmarket chain of private members’ clubs. She declined to provide more detail when approached by FIPP.

However, The Times also picked up on the story and was told by Facebook that Grow, despite appearances, was not a magazine but a business marketing tool.

“Grow by Facebook is a business marketing programme that shares thought leadership content directly with our clients through an annual event as well as print and online marketing channels,” said Leila Woodington, Facebook’s head of business marketing in northern Europe.

“We do not sell any advertising or charge for any of the events or content as this is purely intended for marketing communications purposes,” she added.

Despite Facebook’s explanation, The Times described the company’s entry into print publishing, even if it is just a marketing tool, as a “remarkable about-turn” considering its focus on digital growth.

Both The Times and FIPP also noted that Grow shares that same title as a cannabis horticulture magazine that is available throughout the US and Canada.

Sourced from FIPP, The Times; additional content by WARC staff