History of advertising: No 157: Campaign's first edition

It was the mid-60s when British advertising started having a voice of its own.

No longer deferential to Madison Avenue, it echoed the cultural revolutions taking place in fashion, music and film.

What the industry did not have was a magazine that gave a focus to what was happening and to champion a rapidly evolving sector. All it had was a tired old trade title called World’s Press News, which carried stories about advertising and journalism and was stupefyingly boring.

That changed in 1968 when WPN was among the titles sold by the British Printing Corporation to Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket Publishing. Soon, WPN had morphed into Campaign – and its arrival caused a stir right from the first issue.

From the beginning, the magazine concentrated exclusively on the ad industry. Heseltine and his business partner, Lindsay Masters, reasoned that there was no ad revenue to be had in directing a magazine at journalists.

Masters wanted a title that could hold its own alongside any consumer magazine. One radical idea was to put news on its front page. What’s more, Campaign was to carry big pictures to give it a classy image enhanced by the glossy paper on which it was printed.

The magazine was unlike any trade title that had gone before. There were to be no warmed-over press releases. Campaign was going to have attitude and not be afraid to bite the hand that fed it.

The Daily Telegraph and TV Times were among the first to withdraw advertising after editorial criticism. Masters remembered being threatened with violence at a conference shortly after the launch. 

The industry has changed much since those times. What hasn’t changed is that Campaign remains at its heart.

Things you need to know

  • The Campaign name was suggested by Michael Jackson, the magazine’s launch editor.
  • Masters hired a graduate to help him plan the magazine. The young man successfully negotiated a starting salary of £2,000 a year – double what Masters had offered him. His name was Maurice Saatchi.
  • The relationship with the Saatchi brothers was close in the early days. Once, the magazine’s publication day was brought forward to cover their takeover of Compton Group.