Imagine a Mills & Boon induction fortnight. Two weeks in soft
focus, swanning around a country mansion, surrounded by fragrant flowers
and practising the delicate art of wooing the opposite sex?
No. The reality was following sales teams around for days and attending
conferences about the company’s plans for 1998. ’I was exhausted at the
end of it,’ admits Alan Dawson, the sales and marketing director of
Mills & Boon.
Not that the job is all sales charts and profit projections. Dawson
joined the company five months ago and has been delighted by the
enthusiasm of those around him, as well as being motivated by the need
to keep the content up to date and relevant to its audience.
The appointment of Mills & Boon’s first advertising agency, Davies
Little Cowley (Campaign, last week), is another sign that things are
’We have to persuade people that reading a Mills & Boon is as enjoyable
as watching EastEnders or renting a video,’ Dawson says.
Dawson has been immersing himself in the product, reading peacefully at
his home in Walton-on-Thames. ’I have always tried to find villages,’ he
says, ’The neighbours are friendly and stop for a chat - it is a great
place to recharge your batteries.’
When he’s not reading romantic fiction, Dawson loves to sit back with a
glass of wine, listening to CDs and reading science fiction or science
fantasy. ’It’s just me,’ he adds, ’I like to concentrate on my career
and relax on my own.’
Dawson was born in Edinburgh, but moved to London to study
administration and economics in the early 70s. Since then, he has
remained in the South of England, moving from a sales background into a
marketing position through companies such as Stanbrook Publishing,
Gillette, Max Factor (bought by Procter & Gamble while he was there) and
With 56 new Mills & Boon titles a month, all this fmcg experience comes
in handy. Dawson says: ’We have to do a lot of research because
consumers’ needs are changing constantly. But romantic fiction will
never go out of style.’