VCCP on alert as £50m IPC Connect reviews

IPC Connect is talking to advertising agencies about its portfolio of women's weekly titles, which includes Pick Me Up, Chat, Now, Woman's Own and Woman. The titles are backed by a combined £50 million adspend.

VCCP currently handles advertising for IPC Connect's titles. The review is understood to have been triggered by the departure of VCCP's executive creative director, Shaun McIlrath, who left the agency in June.

The selected agency is expected to develop above-the-line advertising, which will focus primarily on IPC Connect's celebrity title Now, the real-life title Pick Me Up and its women's weekly Woman.

The titles have been backed with spends of £15 million, £2 million and £10 million respectively over the past year, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures showed Pick Me Up lost 11.7 per cent of its sales, with a circulation of 445,098 even though it was heavily promoted last year.

In the celebrity sector, Now dropped from its market-leading position to fourth place in a year after losing many of its readers to Emap's Closer. To compensate for this loss, IPC launched a spin-off called Reality TV Now.

In May, Woman was given a £3.2 million facelift, including the addition of more real-life stories and celebrity coverage, as it attempted to compete with rivals. The title posted a period-on-period decline of 8.6 per cent to 417, 362.

The £50 million account represents a significant slice of VCCP's total billings. It was unclear as Campaign went to press if VCCP would repitch.

No-one at VCCP would comment on the story.

- ABCs, page 25.

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