As the publisher of Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair and GQ, Conde Nast is
arguably the most upmarket and refined of the glossy magazine
Its products are positioned to appeal to affluent and chic consumers -
the ABC1s so beloved of many advertisers.
But when it comes to contract publishing, the company has only dabbled
with clients drawn to its positioning at the luxury end of the market.
Once, there was a publication for Selfridges. Today, it produces
catalogues for Harrods, an annual title for the champagne brand, Veuve
Clicquot, and a quarterly for the department stores group, House of
There is also a loose joint venture with the customer magazine
specialist, Forward Publishing, which has spawned titles for the
jeweller, Aspreys, and the Swiss watch-maker, Patek Philippe. However,
there hasn’t been a strong focus on building the customer magazines
division - until recently, that is.
Last March, Clare Breen, formerly associate publisher of Boutique
magazine in Hong Kong, joined as director of contract publishing.
Moreover, Conde Nast’s managing director, Nick Coleridge, says he is
looking to double profits from the customer magazines operation this
year. He adds: ’We’re used to providing magazines that have to be
interesting enough to sell. We bring these disciplines to customer
The first fruits of the company’s increased focus on customer magazines
is Canary, a quarterly lifestyle title for Canary Wharf Group, aimed at
business executives who work in London’s Docklands commercial centre.
With an expected circulation of 40,000, the first issue will appear on
Canary will be followed in the summer by the launch of a 600,000 print
run, multi-language title for a major (as yet unnamed) financial
Breen says: ’More clients are seeing the benefits of reaching customers
using magazines. What sets us apart from other publishers is that we can
tap into fabulous photographers, brilliant writers and interesting
personalities for our shoots. That must be a huge draw for a
One of the biggest stories of 1999 in the customer magazines sector was
the entry of the ad agency, Publicis, after it took the contract for
Asda Magazine from Premier Magazines. This development was seen in some
quarters as recognition of the agency’s creativity, but as the dust has
settled, it has become clear that it is mainly about strategy.
While Asda has brought more of its marketing communications together
through one agency, the agency’s new magazine operation, Publicis
Blueprint, is symptomatic of a desire to exploit communications channels
other than advertising.
Tellingly, Blueprint’s chief executive, John Wisbey, also heads
Publicis’ direct marketing and technology operations. By binding
together the whole relationship marketing offer, the agency can give its
clients the most appropriate relationship marketing programmes for their
’It’s refreshing for clients to have someone who can talk sensibly about
marketing communications with them and doesn’t always come back
suggesting a magazine as the solution to their needs,’ Wisbey says.
’Asda Magazine was two months in strategic development before we showed
Asda a single piece of creative. And it’s tightly bound in with
everything else they are doing for the brand.’
In addition to its work for Asda, Blueprint has published a magazine for
the Canadian Tourism Commission, Spirit of Canada, and a title sent to
one million shareholders in the Woolwich, called Paying Dividends.
Wisbey says that ’projects with ten major Publicis clients are
advancing’, beginning with a publication for a ’networking’ client that
is on course for a May debut.
The intention, Wisbey adds, is for Blueprint to begin looking later this
year for business from beyond Publicis’ roster of existing clients.
Wisbey expects that, by the end of 2000, the number of staff at
Blueprint will have risen from 28 at present to about 100.
Channel 4 is a long way behind the BBC in terms of the scale of its
publishing activities, but in 1999 it seized the chance to enhance its
TV coverage and branding by launching four magazine titles.
Channel 4 chose to outsource the production of the titles to three
magazine specialists: Future Publishing, Zone and Cabal Communications,
the company set up by Sally O’Sullivan, formerly of IPC and National
Celebrating Chelsea, a 164-page one-off, with a 130,000 print run, was
put together by Cabal to mark Channel 4’s coverage of the Chelsea Flower
Show in May. The next month saw the debut of Test Match Cricket: The
Official Guide, a 64-page magazine produced by Zone. The title cost
pounds 3, had a print run of 110,000 and trumpeted Channel 4’s success
in securing the rights to screen test cricket for the first time.
November saw the appearance of Bath-based Future Publishing’s Music of
the Millennium, designed to amplify the programme and CD of the same
name, and the debut of a bi-monthly A5 title for Channel 4’s
subscription movie channel, FilmFour, again from Zone. The FilmFour
title is sent to subscribers and its circulation will grow in line with
the increasing subscription base, which stands at about 200,000.
FilmFour’s head of marketing and development, Dan Brooke, says the
magazine has three main purposes: to prevent customer ’churn’, to offer
advertisers an additional communications opportunity and to act as a
vehicle for promoting all parts of the FilmFour business - from
production through to distribution - in a single place.
’In the past, we’ve put a toe in the water with magazines,’ Channel 4’s
commercial development manager, Ruth Roscorla, says. ’But as long as it
makes strategic and financial sense, it’s something we’ll carry on