Media: Double Standards - 'I wouldn't print some of today's consumer mags'

The heads of John Brown Citrus and Redwood discuss the relative values of paid-for versus free magazines, high standards and the importance of making a profit.

KEITH GRAINGER - managing director, Redwood Publishing

What's your top title in Boots' Health & Beauty magazine just

terms of ad revenue and why do tops it. Using data from Boots'

you think advertisers use Advantage Card, we can demonstrate

it? positive ROI to advertisers and to

Boots for the entire magazine. So

advertisers use it because it's proven

to drive sales. Also because it's a

great creative product that reaches

millions of Boots shoppers, many of

whom don't buy newsstand


What's the best magazine Difficult one, this. My wife would

you've ever published and what argue for the M&S magazine (now Your

made it so good? M&S), but I'm going for a magazine we

are launching this March for the

NSPCC, titled Your Family. The

magazine's role is to promote positive

parenting to modern mums. Potentially,

millions of children will benefit.

That's really gratifying to me as a

publisher and as a father.

Some traditional consumer Consumer publishers vastly

publishers have struggled to underestimate the challenge of

make a go of their customer producing a high-quality, creatively

publishing ventures. Why do sound magazine that customers will

you think that is? want to read and that meets client

objectives. They also lack real

commitment from senior management,

which will inevitably focus on the

brands they own and can control. The

client-service culture that exists in

a quality publishing agency is also

not evident in newsstand publishing,

nor are the now vital strategic

planning and measurement functions.

If a reader pays for a I don't believe there is any increase

newsstand title, they are in advertiser value attributable to

worth more to an advertiser payment for any media. The value comes

than a reader who receives a from engagement. The great majority of

customer title for nothing. readers of paid-for magazines don't

Discuss. pay the cover price, either. The

National Readership Survey

demonstrates that fewer than 38 per

cent of the readers of the top ten

paid-for magazines on the survey

actually pay to read the title.

What percentage of your The answer to this question would be

company's revenues come from meaningless without my providing

advertising? further information, which the

Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits me from

doing. Sorry.

How has consolidation of the The major factors influencing product

major players in customer quality are the agency disciplines and

publishing influenced the increasing recognition of the

quality of the product? effectiveness of customer magazines

among clients. These factors are

linked. The agency discipline is about

matching customer insights, brand

knowledge and marketing objectives

into creative work. This results in

measurably more effective products

that attract greater investment from


Which job in media would you As a newsstand publisher turned agency

most like apart from your publisher, I've got the best job in

current one? town. If you know of a publishing

agency that can match Redwood's

creativity, professionalism, client

list, talented staff and which is part

of a group as vibrant as Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO, drop me a line.

What advice would you have for If I couldn't persuade them to come

a young entrepreneur looking and work for us, I'd suggest they find

to launch a customer a talented and flexible creative

publishing venture in the partner (editor) with a fascination

UK? for brands, then to go and set up in


Outside work, what one thing To get my RYA Day Skipper Practical

do you want to achieve in Qualification (which involves five

2005? days at sea followed by an exam), then

sail to France for fruits de mer at

Fuscias in St Vaast.

ANDREW HIRSCH - chief executive, John Brown Citrus Publishing.

What's your top title in Sky. Advertisers use it because it's

terms of ad revenue and why do the biggest magazine in Britain. It's

you think advertisers use got an ABC of more than seven million,

it? a readership of well over eight

million and gets an extremely strong

response. There's nothing else like it

in the UK.

What's the best magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated. There's no

you've ever published and what better food magazine in Britain, let

made it so good? alone a better customer food magazine.

In New York, you can go into any book

store and buy a copy and I don't think

this can be said of any other customer


Some traditional consumer That's simple, it's not their core

publishers have struggled to business. You have to play to your

make a go of their customer strengths and a consumer magazine

publishing ventures. Why do publisher knows how to sell magazines

you think that is? on-shelf, while there's a multitude of

skills to creating customer magazines

and publishing is just one of these.

Running a customer publishing business

is a combination of running an ad

agency or marketing services agency as

well as a publishing company ... and

it's harder than it looks.

If a reader pays for a I can't agree with this. It's all

newsstand title, they are about what response you get from a

worth more to an advertiser magazine and advertisers and agencies

than a reader who receives a are strictly looking for what magazine

customer title for nothing. gets the best response in cost per

Discuss. thousand, not on if the magazine is

paid for or not. A paid-for magazine

and a good response don't necessarily

go hand in hand.

What percentage of your Sixteen per cent.

company's revenues come from


How has consolidation of the I don't think it has. There has been a

major players in customer shift in the quality, design and

publishing influenced the editorial content of customer

quality of the product? magazines and I think they are now

influencing the quality of consumer

magazines. Customer magazines are

leading the way, looking at different

formats and materials all the time,

while there are still consumer

magazines on the market that I

wouldn't let out of my company.

Which job in media would you There are two I'd quite like but I'm

most like apart from your probably too old for them both now.

current one? The first would be a sponsorship

director for a Grand Prix team,

although I'm not sure my wife would

approve of that one, and the second is

being a marketing director for one of

the big film companies.

What advice would you have for The most important thing is to make

a young entrepreneur looking sure you're making a profit. It's easy

to launch a customer to get in and launch and then see that

publishing venture in the you're actually losing money.


Outside work, what one thing To move into the house that my wife

do you want to achieve in and I bought two-and-a-half years

2005? ago.