[HH]NEWS ANALYSIS: Size matters in the ruthless land of the publishing giants - Competing with magazine big boys is tough for small outfits

By COLIN GRIMSHAW, campaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 31 July 2000 12:00AM

G&J says a lack of size and clout forced its exit from the UK after 14 years. Apparently, it was unable to build a sufficiently large portfolio to achieve the economies of scale required to take on publishing heavyweights such as IPC.

G&J says a lack of size and clout forced its exit from the UK after

14 years. Apparently, it was unable to build a sufficiently large

portfolio to achieve the economies of scale required to take on

publishing heavyweights such as IPC.



Some might consider this a lame excuse coming from a company backed by

the huge Bertelsmann empire. But if G&J really isn’t big enough to hack

it in mainstream consumer publishing, then what chance is there for

minnows such as Parkhill and Cabal?



Doubts about the future of Eve Pollard’s Parkhill resurfaced last week

with the news that Aura might not appear in September. It seems the

title is struggling to drum up enough advertising.



As for Cabal, after a torrid time - during which many felt it would not

survive - it has regrouped and is about to launch men’s magazine

Mondo.



Delayed from last spring, when it couldn’t find space on the newsstands,

Cabal is hoping Mondo can add critical mass to a portfolio that, like

Parkhill’s, comprises just two titles.



Next month also brings John Brown’s entry into the increasingly crowded

world of women’s magazines with Bare. Unlike BBC Worldwide’s Eve, which

will announce its arrival with a pounds 2 million marketing fanfare,

Bare hopes to get its message across using PR and some point-of-sale

promotion.



In the dog-eat-dog world of glossy magazines, it might seem that all the

odds are stacked in favour of the big boys.



Apart from providing lower unit costs of production, large portfolios

can be leveraged to secure better positioning at retail outlets and to

generate more advertising revenue from group deals. Merely being taken

seriously by media agencies is an issue for smaller publishers.


Charmian Denison, who recently moved from Cabal to become advertisement

manager on IPC’s youth titles, recalls: ’At Cabal, just getting through

the door to see agencies was tricky. You had to draw on personal favours

from old contacts.’



Conversely, Mark Lonergan, who moved from IPC to become Cabal group ad

director, argues that his sales team is closer to editorial and has more

knowledge of the magazine brands.



’At IPC it was 18 months before I met an editor and decision making took

for ever,’ he says.



Sally O’Sullivan, chief executive of Cabal, concedes that small

publishers need to be cheaper and faster to market. And unlike bigger

publishers, she knows she can’t afford to make too many mistakes.



It is perhaps this ability to make errors and absorb losses - as well as

being able to spend their way out of trouble - that is the big players’

greatest advantage.



O’Sullivan laments: ’Emap spent pounds 10 million on Heat, which sells

60,000, and pounds 7 million on Red. The latter sells only 20,000 more

than our Real Homes, which cost a total of pounds 500,000. But Heat and

Red are not called failures.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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