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
’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
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’
’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.’