PPA CONFERENCE: G&J’s O’Hara lays into ’junk’ customer titles

Customer magazines are a worthless drain on readers’ leisure time which threaten to detract from the appeal of consumer titles, according to Joanne O’Hara, Gruner & Jahr’s group advertising director.

Customer magazines are a worthless drain on readers’ leisure time

which threaten to detract from the appeal of consumer titles, according

to Joanne O’Hara, Gruner & Jahr’s group advertising director.



O’Hara told delegates attending the PPA debate on the merits of customer

magazine publishing: ’Customer magazines have the effect of further

fragmenting people’s leisure time but not adding real value.’



In an extraordinary attack, she continued: ’Magazine fatigue from

customer titles is a real threat to consumer magazines. But these

magazines don’t actually satisfy the wants or needs of the readers. It

can only be likened to living on a diet of junk food which, in the end,

often leaves you longing for a real meal.’



O’Hara unveiled research commissioned by G&J from Millward Brown and

BMRB which looked at the dynamics of customer magazines versus

traditional titles. The survey found that half the readers of contract

titles read them because they were free, with money-off coupons

providing a major motivation to pick up the magazines.



O’Hara said: ’People don’t believe you can get something for nothing.

Contract publishers don’t seem to realise that paying is part of the

process. If you get something for nothing then it doesn’t really have

any value to you.’



Jules Rastelli, publishing director at Redwood Publishing, hit back by

claiming that contract publishing introduced magazines to readers who

had never considered the medium before.



Rastelli claimed 71 per cent of Homebase Living readers, for example,

did not read any of the top ten home interest magazines.



The area where consumer magazines are threatened by contract publishing

titles is ad revenue, according to Rastelli. ’Advertisers see customer

magazines as offering unique coverage of key audiences.’



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