CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER/TERRY MANSFIELD - NatMags veteran chief in no mood for retirement. Anna Griffiths talks to the arch salesman as he gets ready for a career change

Terry Mansfield is celebrating 40 years in the media industry. A fortnight ago, he announced his successor as managing director of the National Magazine Company. You could be forgiven for thinking that this meant he was nearing the end of an illustrious career. But you’d be wrong.

Terry Mansfield is celebrating 40 years in the media industry. A

fortnight ago, he announced his successor as managing director of the

National Magazine Company. You could be forgiven for thinking that this

meant he was nearing the end of an illustrious career. But you’d be

wrong.



’For me this is only the beginning,’ he says smoothly. ’I haven’t

started the rest of my career in the media business.’ Mansfield’s pipe

and slippers will have to wait.



Approaching his 60th birthday, Mansfield is an accomplished

ringmaster.



His slight, immaculately dressed frame fits effortlessly into the

austere surroundings of the boardroom, where a simple working lunch has

been transformed into salmon on watercress, a heaped plate of exotic

fruits and a good bottle of French dry white wine.



The boy from Walthamstow has done good. His smooth, crisp accent

indicates he has moved up in the world and learned how to package

himself. According to Mandy Pooler, chief executive of MindShare UK:

’Terry is like a walnut whip - he’s got a very tough exterior but he’s a

very honest man with quite old-fashioned values underneath that.’



Mansfield started off at 16 in the postroom of the London advertising

agency, D. H. Brocklesby. ’I’ve been in this business as long as Peter

Mead, except that he looks younger than me,’ he quips.



In his 29 years at NatMags, he has launched ten magazines, kicked off

successful events such as the Cosmopolitan and Country Living shows,

been the first to tackle masthead TV with the launch of the Good

Housekeeping Institute programme and the Zest Beauty Show and developed

numerous brand extensions from House Beautiful carpets to a line of

Cosmo lingerie.



Simon Kippin, publishing director of Good Housekeeping who has worked

with Mansfield for 14 years, says: ’He’s always the one with five ideas

a minute. He’s a great ideas man.’



The only area where he has not taken a lead is launching an online

service, as Pooler points out. ’Nicholas (Coleridge) beat him to it with

the Conde Nast website. That’s the only time he has been beaten.’



Mansfield’s first step into the magazine industry was in 1961 when he

joined Conde Nast as assistant advertisement manager for Photography

magazine.



Although the pay was poor, he had struck gold in terms of the people he

worked with. ’I spent my 21st birthday on Christmas Island (doing

national service) with over 4,000 men and just two women, and it made up

my mind that I didn’t want to work with men again. When I came back, I

had the option of joining Conde Nast from (the ad agency) S. H. Benson,

and I was mesmerised because there were so many girls there.’



In 1966, Mansfield became a senior sales rep on Queen magazine, edited

by the irrepressible Jocelyn Stevens. Mansfield recalls one occasion

when Stevens was on the phone to Princess Margaret while Mansfield was

trying to tell him about a problem with the advertising pages. Stevens

said to the Princess: ’Tell him he’s doing very well,’ before handing

over the phone to Mansfield, who then heard the Princess saying: ’I hear

you’re doing very well.’ It was a typical gesture and the kind of

encouragement which meant a lot to Mansfield. ’When you’re in your

twenties, that makes anything possible in your head.’



’Anything’s possible’ is a maxim that is still at the forefront of

Mansfield’s thoughts, as are two other magic words: ’intellectual

rights’. These are key to the strategy being forged by NatMags and its

parent company, the Hearst Corporation.



’I don’t see NatMags as just being NatMags, but a communications

company, and the magazines are the catalyst for all the possibilities,’

Mansfield explains. ’National Geographic started out as a magazine and

now it has a TV channel in 47 countries. Intellectual rights have a

great future.’



In Mansfield’s mind, the brand that is most likely to become a TV

channel is the company’s leading glossy, Cosmopolitan. ’It has the

potential because a lot of existing films and dramas would suit the

brand. But the content would have to be right.’



Mansfield has other plans for Cosmo, which already has brand extensions

in areas such as food, drink, clothing and bedding. He declares: ’I am

mad about a Cosmo Cafe, which I believe has tremendous

possibilities.



We are talking to a number of companies in the restaurant and leisure

business, but we haven’t found a partner yet who has that vision we’re

looking for. I want the Cosmo Cafe to be special. It would be in London,

Leeds and Manchester.’



He is also toying with the idea for a Cosmo yoghurt. ’It would be a

natural yoghurt and you’d feel it would be doing you good.’ Mansfield is

so fond of the Cosmo brand that he has named his Rottweiler after it

because ’she’s so slight and thin, she’s like a Cosmo girl’.



Mansfield likes to tune into the likes and dislikes of readers by

loitering in newsagents, quizzing women who are browsing the shelves.

This can lead to embarrassing situations. ’I was standing in the

magazine section at W. H. Smith in Victoria station questioning people

the other night,’ he tells me. ’A woman said to me: ’If you want to

invite me for a drink, why don’t you just invite me for a drink!’’ But

even accusations of soliciting don’t put Mansfield off. ’It’s no more or

less than being a politician. They have to go and find out what is going

on, just as I have to.’



Mansfield is a consummate salesman, as Pooler remembers from her first

days in media. ’In 1982, when I first joined the business, he was one of

the few senior people who would come around and flog space. He never

stops selling his medium. He is monomaniacal, but you can’t help but

admire him.’



After all, how many people can boast that they have sold space to an

infamous dictator? Mansfield can. He persuaded the ex-Ugandan leader,

Idi Amin, to buy a page of advertising in a Harpers & Queen special

report on Africa.



If there have been any frustrations at NatMags, Mansfield says that they

have been self-inflicted. ’I’ve come up with ideas, and then I have

hesitated.



Good ideas are based on sniffing the air and acting accordingly, so when

people would ask ’why do you feel that?’ I couldn’t explain why.’



He insists that his job is to manage talent, or as he puts it: ’I am the

grit, not the pearl.’ The 90s are a great time to explore new horizons,

he says. ’There is a creative and cultural explosion that is as

important to the company as North Sea Oil is to the UK. One of the

problems of this country is it is still small, but the possibilities for

us in the globalisation of media are so great.’



Mansfield believes that Duncan Edwards, his chosen heir, has that

crucial wider understanding of media and is therefore the perfect person

to take up the reins of NatMags when he steps down in three years. ’I

was looking for someone eclectic enough to take on all these businesses

we have. That gave Duncan the edge, but there are several people here

whom I admire and were in the frame.’



Mansfield declines to specify exactly what he will busy himself with

after handing over to Edwards, but he is likely to assume wider

responsibilities within Hearst (he was the first non-American to be

appointed to the board).



Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Conde Nast, will miss him more

than most if and when he does retire. ’He’s been my boss (on Harpers &

Queen), mentor, number one rival and partner (through the magazine

distributor, Comag). I never underestimate him, he’s always there.

Goodness knows who we will talk about when he retires!’



Mansfield, who launched the parenting title, M, earlier this year, and

last week brought out the men’s health title, ZM, has plans to launch

one more title in the next year. It is hard to imagine what the magazine

industry will be like without him buzzing around, but it’s likely to be

some time before we find out.



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