Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2003: Customer Publishing Agency of the Year - Best of the Rest

Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2003: Customer Publishing Agency of the Year - Best of the Rest

Article excerpt

Against a backdrop of declining advertising spend, the customer publishing market has grown by 18% over the past two years. The UK sector is now valued at a staggering pounds 313m, and Mintel predicts that by 2007, it will have seen an 8% year- on-year increase since 2002, and be valued at pounds 461m.

The latest ABC figures, released in August 2003, show that nine of the top ten ABC-audited magazines are customer titles, and National Readership Survey figures show that five of the ten most widely read magazines in the UK are customer titles.

Last year, some 79% of the UK population said they'd seen one of the 853 titles at some point.

'After a really tough 18 months, the market seems to have freed up a little,' says Hilary Weaver, director of the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA). 'Pitching activity has intensified during the course of the year, so the industry is more optimistic than at this time last year.'

APA chairman Lisa Barnard agrees: 'The majority of APA members experienced a very tough trading climate in the first quarter, a dire second quarter, but had a more upbeat third quarter and definite green shoots toward the end of this year. Most feel optimistic about 2004.'

It seems there is good reason for such optimism. Having lost the AA, one of the UK's biggest customer publishing accounts, to Forward in June, John Brown Citrus Publishing (JBCP) bounced back by winning UK and US clients including JD Sports, Nickelodeon, Selfridges, VisitBritain, Bloomingdales, Nestle and the US Army. It grew its turnover by 22% to pounds 42.4m in 2003, and forecasts a turnover of pounds 51.8m for the year ending 2004.

JBCP also won critical acclaim for Carlos, the innovatively designed quarterly title it launched earlier this year for Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class passengers. Toward the end of 2003, its success was underlined by four APA awards.

Public sector work has been lucrative, especially for Redwood, which produces titles for clients such as the Welsh Development Agency, the British Council and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Teachers, the DfES title for 360,000 state-school teachers, was one of three APA award winners for the agency, carrying off Most Effective Internal Title.

Redwood won seven new clients, and former customers, including Dulux and Dollond & Aitchison have returned to the fold. However, it was dealt a blow by the exit of founder, chairman and chief executive Mike Potter in July to start Seven Publishing. …

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