OPINION: Question Time with ... Annette Burns - PS ad chief wants to make shopping simple for busy women. By Colin Grimshaw

Dennis group ad director Annette Burns has been rather busy of late launching PS, the home shopping magazine for thirtysomething women. Having just returned from a trip to Marks & Spencer - the first time she has found time for lunchtime shopping in months - she uses the experience to justify PS’s entry into what is fast becoming a very crowded market.

Dennis group ad director Annette Burns has been rather busy of late

launching PS, the home shopping magazine for thirtysomething women.

Having just returned from a trip to Marks & Spencer - the first time she

has found time for lunchtime shopping in months - she uses the

experience to justify PS’s entry into what is fast becoming a very

crowded market.



’Women now have careers, work long hours and don’t have time to browse

in shops,’ she says. ’Maybe they don’t work in town and have a pretty

limited choice of shops on their suburban high street. Or they might

have a three-year-old in tow and find shopping a chore. These are the

people who will read PS.’



However, agencies were sceptical and Burns has had her work cut out

convincing them of the concept. ’When we started selling PS, some people

had difficulty getting to grips with the marriage of a glossy magazine

and a catalogue.



It wasn’t the easiest sell in the world. PS was a genuinely new concept

and we didn’t have a dummy. But after a while they said: ’Good on you

for trying something different’.’



Some might wonder why the likes of M&S and Laura Ashley, which already

have customer magazines that serve as catalogues, would want to buy

catalogue sections in PS.



’We offer them another marketing opportunity,’ insists Burns. ’In order

to buy direct from those retailers, you either have to go into a store

to pick up the magazine - which sort of defeats the purpose - or you

have to be a regular customer who gets it delivered. This means the

retailers are not broadening their market. But PS can recruit new

customers for them.’



Burns bristles at accusations that PS is no more than an over-priced

catalogue. ’There is masses of editorial in PS - features, celebrity

interviews and fashion guides,’ she says. ’There is also an eclectic mix

of trusted brands and exciting things you might not see anywhere else.

Every reader will find something to buy without having to leave the

house.’



Since almost everything in the magazine is available by direct response,

advertisers will soon be able to measure PS’s effectiveness. But Burns

claims not to be worried that the pounds 2 cover price might deter

people from buying the magazine and hence from buying the advertisers’

wares.



’The cover price is an important revenue source,’ she says. ’But it is

also important to put a value on the title because we want people to

respond to it as a glossy magazine.’



PS won’t be short of company on newsagents’ shelves, with several

glossies aimed at women in their thirties launching in the next few

months. Burns and others believe the market is ready for a shake-up.

’You do wake up some mornings and think ’I never want to see Marie

Claire again’,’ she says.



Burns grew up in Newry in Northern Ireland but escaped to the bright

lights of London to attend university. Educated at a convent school, her

careers teacher initially refused to sign her pupil’s UCCA form because

she believed London to be a den of iniquity. After graduating, Burns

travelled to the US and Central America. She now lives with her husband

in genteel Winchester and has recently taken up sailing. The long

commute to work provides plenty of time to study Fortune and Investor’s

Chronicle as she researches her new hobby - punting shares.





Burns on media buying



’The quality of media buying isn’t what it was five years ago. And time

pressure limits the chance to have fulfilling conversations so

opportunities don’t get explored.’



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).