Steve Newbould is Emap’s golden boy in every sense, Anne-Marie Crawford
Steve ‘chisel chin’ Newbould is a thoroughly nice bloke who has risen
unobtrusively through the ranks of Emap.
His latest incarnation sees him step stylishly into the newly created
role of planning director at Emap Metro, the division that houses the
publishing giant’s style, music and men’s titles.
He was previously a publisher - of the trendy magazines, Sky and FHM -
so it’s obviously an upwards move (same office though). But planning
director sounds more like an agency job than one within a media owner’s
remit, so what on earth is Emap up to?
The blunt answer is, trying to sell more advertising, whether that’s to
staple users of men’s magazines, or to those who don’t really use the
sector. Newbould talks commendably about providing a better service to
agencies and selling the sector generically. But let’s be honest, isn’t
chasing new business the primary focus of the role?
‘All elements are equally important,’ Newbould explains. ‘We want people
to know that we’re here to give better service, not just for Metro
magazines, but other titles too.’ Really? Does that mean he’ll be
extolling the virtues of its rivals, GQ, Esquire and Loaded, to
advertisers too? ‘I don’t mind doing that if it takes a slice out of TV
spend,’ he says patiently.
‘To a degree, I would talk about rivals if it made sense to outline the
broadness of editorial scope in the men’s market. But if it gets to the
stage where an advertiser asks which magazines it should put on its
schedules, we’re obviously going to champion our titles.’
Surely, that’s rather like being shown the entire sweet shop and then
being told you can only have the toffees - very nice and all that, but
there are times when only jelly babies will do.
Happily, Metro’s rivals are under no false apprehensions about any
favours Newbould might do them. ‘Steve can’t ignore other big titles in
the market, but there’s no way he’ll put any of our magazines in a
flattering light,’ Peter Stuart, publisher of GQ, says.
John Wisbey, in the same role at Esquire, believes the move is
essentially sound, but questions whether it will work. ‘It depends very
much on whether he can get to clients early enough to have meaningful
conversations. I’d endorse the initiative, but it’s going to be
difficult to enforce.’
Newbould will doubtless take such comments on his nicely chiselled chin
and simply get on with the job in hand. Emap Metro has invested a lot of
time, and presumably money, in this personable young man and he is not
about to let them down.
Those who know him say he’s hard-working, professional and sincere. A
genuinely nice guy, with more than his fair share of the ‘swoon factor’
(sorry girls, he’s already spoken for).
He’s 29 and has worked his way up from post-room boy at the National
Magazine Company. Although he purports to being ambitious, you get the
feeling he’s had greatness - Emap-style - thrust upon him.
Ask him who has been the driving force behind the creation of the
planning director’s role and he namechecks the publishing director,
Marcus Rich, and the general manager, Jerry Perkins, but there’s no
sense of Newbould having pushed for the role himself.
To be honest, that probably wouldn’t fit with his character. He’s what
they call a team player, less worried about building his own profile
than that of the company. Newbould talks enthusiastically about carving
out a career path at Emap in straight advertising, rather than, say,
publishing or management, and you feel he’s laying down the blueprint
for the generations of other Emap apologists who will follow him.
He’s very happy with his lot. When he calls Emap ‘dynamic’ and
‘proactive’ you believe him (well, almost). Yes, the powers-that-be must
be very pleased with their choice. Newbould is a safe pair of hands, the
right man for the job, a good operator and, I’m sure, a charming
He’s mature for his years - he used to be in a band but gave it up to
concentrate on his career. He likes music, dips in and out of the club
scene, keeps up with fashion, but wouldn’t call himself a leader.
Richard Britton, the head of press at CIA Medianetwork, is sure there
must be some dirt on him somewhere, but fails to dredge up anything
If some say he lacks charisma, well, that’s up to them - he more than
makes up for it in other departments. And anyway, you can have too much
of a good thing.
The Newbould file
1984 National Magazine Company, post-room clerk
1985 NatMags, production assistant on Good Housekeeping
1987 News International/Hachette, classified sales executive for Sky
1990 Sky magazine, advertisement manager
1992 Sky magazine, advertisement director
1992 Emap Metro, publisher
1996 Emap Metro, planning director