Guardian begins marketing restructure as Chris Lawson exits

Guardian's marketing leader Chris Lawson exits after two years
Guardian's marketing leader Chris Lawson exits after two years

Chris Lawson, director of content sales and marketing at Guardian News and Media, is leaving the publisher after two years to "explore new opportunities", prompting a restructure of its marketing department.

The former Absolute Radio brand director was unveiled as GNM’s top marketer in April 2010, joining its consumer management board and reporting to Adam Freeman, the director of consumer media. 

During his tenure, Lawson has led marketing responsibility for both The Guardian and The Observer newspaper and digital brands. His team of 35 marketers includes Richard Furness, the head of newspaper sales and marketing, and Steve Wing, head of mobile and digital attraction.

The marketing leader’s exit coincides with an ongoing voluntary redundancy programme open to editorial teams working on The Observer and The Guardian, but is not connected with the initiative.

Speaking to Marketing, Lawson stressed his decision to leave GNM was based on a sense of having done what he set out to do.

He said: "When I joined GNM two years ago it was a business at the start of transition. During my tenure we have transformed the team’s focus from traditional promotional marketing into a digital and direct led organisation.

"I believe I’m leaving the business with the foundations in place, having helped GNM’s digital subscribers grow from 43,000 to more than 216,000 today.

"My focus has also been on developing GNM’s content revenue streams, which has seen substantial growth thanks to our iPhone and iPad apps."

He added: "Yes, revenues from newspaper circulations have fallen over the past two years, but overall content revenues are now higher than they were a year ago." 

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is reported to have told an audience at a British Journalism Review event last week that around 25% of The Guardian's income, or about £50 million, now comes from digital.

Pressed on whether Lawson believes GNM’s open journalism model is the right one for the embattled newspaper group, which reported losses of £38m last June, the departing marketer was steadfastly supportive.

He said: "I think the journalism side of the business has absolutely benefitted from our open and collaborative approach. Meanwhile, from a marketing perspective, I know being able to offer such a wide and influential reach has undoubtedly helped with campaigns and in promoting the brand's core values."

By way of further example of opportunities now opening up for the one-time traditional newspaper publisher, Lawson pointed to The Guardian’s new-found success on Facebook since it launched its app in September 2011.

The ability for Facebook users to seamlessly access Guardian stories via the site's Open Graph has attracted around four million active users since last September, many of whom represent an entirely new audience.

Lawson said: "The rate of growth in uptake of the Facebook app, particularly in the younger under 25 demographic, a traditionally hard to reach group for a newspaper, has been incredibly impressive. The Facebook app is just one story for a company still in transition, but it’s a positive one."  

On his next move, Lawson said: "I think it’s an exciting time to be involved in and around e-commerce and I am open-minded to new opportunities within media and beyond."

He added: "I’d hope my experience in engaging communities of like-minded individuals by using future-facing marketing techniques combined with classic direct marketing to achieve set goals is a valuable one in today’s world."

A GNM spokesperson said Lawson's exit this summer, in addition to "recent and forthcoming departures" had prompted a review of the current management structure. 

In an email to staff last week, Andrew Miller, chief executive of GNM parent Guardian Media Group, confirmed Lawson was leaving the company, along with two other senior departures: Kate Morgan-Locke, director of consumer offers and services, who left at the end of April, and Andy Beale, director of technology.

Going forward, Steve Folwell becomes GNM's director of business development and brand extensions and Furness is being promoted to the position of director of brand and engagement.

David Pemsel, who has been with the group since September 2011 in a commercial and strategic consultancy role, has now taken a long-term contract as chief marketing officer, to assist with the restructuring of the department.

Prior to joining Absolute in August 2008, Lawson had a six month stint as Bauer's digital marketing director, responsible for lifestyle and specialist brands.

He also worked for eight years at Emap, first as head of CRM for its consumer division before becoming digital marketing director of Emap Performance at the start of 2005.

He began his marketing career as a relationship marketing manager at retailer Safeway in 1996.

Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter: @DurraniMix


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network