Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: Customer Publisher of the Year - John Brown Citrus

Magazine article Marketing

AGENCY 2002: Customer Publisher of the Year - John Brown Citrus

Article excerpt

JBCP has had what can only be called a storming year, taking the number one spot and a trio of the UK's biggest titles from rival publisher Redwood.

John Brown Citrus Publishing (JBCP) has had its best year yet. After the marriage in March of the two top-ten agencies, the merged company went on to have an amazing nine-month honeymoon, which by all accounts is still going strong.

The agency has now taken over the top spot in the UK contract publishing market from Redwood, which had held the position for at least a decade.

And that's not all JBCP has taken from Redwood. It has also snatched three of the UK's biggest customer publishing accounts - winning the AA magazine in early 2001, and Yellow Pages and Sky earlier this year.

Sky, the UK's largest consumer title, has a circulation of 5.3 million, and combined with the AA Magazine, the second largest with five million, this pushes the merged agency comfortably into the number one slot from October, according to chief executive Andrew Hirsch.

Even without the merger, John Brown Citrus' dramatic onward progress would have been respectable over the past 12 months, with an increase in net turnover at a steady 6%. Indeed, this year it has won contracts with London Underground, Freeserve and Charles Schwab - new business worth pounds 22m when added to Sky and Yellow Pages. Its low points have been few - the loss of the pounds 3m IKEA account, and the suspension of Virgin's in-flight title, Hot Air.

Hirsch points out that the industry is maturing: instead of new clients coming in at the rate of one a month, as was the case three or four years ago, growth is now as much to be found in winning repitches and in organic growth as it is in finding new business.

Such was the case with a series of design magazines produced for M-Real - a paper company. The series has seen editions of the magazine devoted to aspects of design including Light, Colour, Words, and now Image. The magazine provides an effective showcase for M-Real's Galerie range of papers.

For an independent to top a sector table is unusual, and will be seen as a considerable achievement in a market where buyouts of successful privately owned agencies by media groups are the norm. Not only is it now number one in the market, but it is also the leading independent contract publisher. With the exception of Haymarket Customer Publishing, it claims to be the only significant contract publisher not owned by a major advertising agency group.

Hirsch is clear about the logic of the union as reinforcing John Brown's strengths in newsstand consumer publishing with the marketing sales expertise it has hitherto tended to lack; this is now provided by top Citrus executives such as Simon Chappell, whose background includes stints at Sky and British Airways and who is now president of John Brown Inc. 'We had become used to our consumer way of working, and were perhaps not so good at the marketing side. Now we are great consumer publishers and marketers rolled into one,' he says.

Proof of JBCP's excellent performance on behalf of its clients was seen at this year's APA Awards, where JBCP won four categories: Most Effective Consumer Publication (Retail) for Waitrose Food Illustrated, Journalist of the Year for Kevin Gould of Waitrose Food Illustrated; Most Effective Finance Title for More Th>n Magazine; and Most Effective Internal Communication for Land Rover's The Reporter.

In addition to its storming growth in the UK, JBCP has grown its New York operation, and in the past three months it has won three major US accounts worth in excess of dollars 10m (pounds 6.42m). The past year has also seen JBCP create publishing alliances in Amsterdam and Madrid to add to its existing links in San Francisco.


Haymarket Customer Publishing (HCP, which is part of the company that publishes Marketing) has been credited with bringing a new application to customer publishing, in the shape of recruitment. …

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