Cebu Pac’s Smile mag is back with new, younger design 2
Filipina Ana Kalaw, now based in Tokyo, appears on the cover and writes a guide to her city’s coolest neighborhood

After brief hiatus, Cebu Pacific mag Smile unveils new look designed for ‘POV generation’

You could say Smile version 2.0 is very social media savvy
ANCX Staff | Feb 28 2023

After two years of absence from passenger seat pouches due to the pandemic, Cebu Pacific’s inflight travel magazine Smile is back. It’s also sporting a refreshed look that, according to its latest press release, aims to “reflect travel in the modern era and celebrate the very best of the Philippines and beyond.” 

The attractions of Shimokitazawa
The cover story on the attractions of Shimokitazawa.

The comeback issue’s cover story is dedicated to Tokyo’s coolest neighborhood of the moment, the trendy Shimokitazawa—home to vegan cafes, shops that sell vintage fashions, and Kawai slash rustic-looking coffee shops. Is the magazine talking to a much younger audience now, the Gen Zs and millennials? Or is the choice of cover subject just a reflection of what most people look for in their chosen destinations these days? 

How to enjoy pricey Singapore on a budget.
How to enjoy pricey Singapore on a budget.

What we know for sure is that it’s “created with the social media generation in mind,” to quote James Ong, senior group editor at Ink, the Singapore-based publishing company behind the inflight read. Ong is also the man who headed the stunning overhaul of Mabuhay magazine several years back, giving the monthly PAL rag a much needed modern energy and a worldly sophistication. 

For Smile, however, it seems the aim was to evoke a more personal, first-person experience—the cover star is the traveler itself right at the center of the action—even as the rest of the magazine point towards a reader experience that encourages constant engagement with other readers and the online world.  

What to watch out for at Taipei’s famous night markets.
What to watch out for at Taipei’s famous night markets.

In his Editor’s note, Ong goes into detail with regards the redesign: “We have streamlined our page design and infused our stories with playful colors, expressive font types, bigger images and hashtags that you can use when sharing your favorite story on social media. You will also see reader-recommended tips on our pages, so if you have something you'd like to share with the Smile community, reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram with your ideas!” 

Other stories in this issue include a spotlight on the bustling night markets of Taipei, how to enjoy expensive Singapore on a budget, and a guide to Melbourne, Australia where Cebu Pacific starts flying again to this March.

Bold colors, a funky font type and hashtags are all part of the magazine’s redesign.
Bold colors, a funky font type and hashtags are all part of the magazine’s redesign.

Do magazines like Smile still have a place in the world of post-pandemic travel? “Inflight magazines are a beloved and irreplaceable touchpoint for passengers looking for inspiration for their next trip, as well as businesses and brands looking to reach a highly desirable audience,” said Michael Keating, Ink’s CEO. “People keep asking us when Smile is returning and we’re extremely happy to now be able to say ‘very soon.” 

Smile Magazine

Cebu Pacific now flies to 34 domestic destinations and is set to reinstate all its 25 international destinations this first quarter of 2023. We predict passengers will be happy to pick up their copies of Smile as soon as they get settled on their seats. In a way, it’s still like the Smile of old: chock-full of ideas and suggestions on where to go next, what to see, and where to stay, splashed with images that bring the reader immediately to a dream destination. The only difference is, unlike most pandemic survivors, this one’s looking younger.