CUSTOMER PUBLISHING: Winning magazines

Customer titles for brands from Homebase to Land Rover took top honours at the 2003 APA awards. Jennifer Hiscock reports.

The fifth year of the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA) customer publishing awards marks a special year for the organisation, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary.

Over the past ten years, customer publishing has grown rapidly in both breadth and stature, and the publications submitted for this year's awards reflect the high quality of editorial excellence and marketing expertise that underpin an industry that is worth an estimated £313m.

Over the years the award categories have been refined to reflect the diversity of the industry. This year the international category was added in recognition of the work being done by UK agencies in cross-border publishing.

For the 2003 awards, 24 companies submitted 152 entries in 16 categories.

Forty nine judges drawn from the marketing, advertising and publishing communities spent a full three days selecting 70 finalists from 17 companies and then whittling those down to 16 category winners. Eleven of those category winners were put forward for consideration as Customer Magazine of the Year.

Nearly 400 guests were in the ballroom of the Dorchester Hotel last week to hear the winners announced, itself an endorsement of the appeal of both the awards and the industry itself.

High standards of editorial, design and production alone are not enough to garner an APA award for customer publishing. In each of the 17 categories, entrants had to provide evidence of their effectiveness in achieving the objectives set by the client that commissioned it.

With even more advanced measurement tools and methodologies emerging from many of the agencies, the demonstration of effectiveness this year was all the more rigorous.

For many entries, effectiveness was measured in qualitative terms, such as increased loyalty or improved favourability toward a brand. But several of this year's winners also demonstrated that they contributed to sales of products in the magazines or to uptake of membership.

Those that achieve both are highly valuable tools in the client's armoury, maintaining a relationship with customers as well as persuading them to buy products.

The APA and Marketing would like to congratulate the winners and to thank the judges for their efforts.


Title: ideas

Client Homebase

Publishing agency: Publicis Blueprint

Wanting to shake off its image as a DIY shed retailer and become a home enhancement destination, Homebase is investing in a massive programme of store redevelopment, and appealing to the female audience is crucial.

It identified the need for a single communication to express the new brand positioning - it had to be produced on a breakeven model and achieve results based on increased sales and margins, driving footfall, enhancing the shopping experience and brand loyalty.

Ideas magazine, self-funded through partnerships with Homebase suppliers, costs £1 in-store and is free to members of Homebase's Spend & Save loyalty scheme. Its barcode means Homebase can track the behaviour of individual Spend & Save customers and provide transactional data to prove the ROI for both Homebase and its supplier partners.

For a six-week period after each publication, the visits and purchases of magazine readers are measured against a control group. In addition to the 250,000 copies distributed in-store, a further 250,000 are mailed out, 80% of which carry a discount voucher redeemable for one weekend only. Again, the behaviour of voucher holders is measured against magazine readers and non-readers. An average 5.3% of the Spend & Save customers who received the 10% voucher redeemed it during the four possible days (market average for coupon redemption is about 1%).

In the seven months since the launch of ideas, more than £30m in sales has been tracked through the magazine in three issues. More than 250,000 new store visits have been made as a result of reading the magazine. There has been an average 20% product sales uplift from products featured in ideas, and partners saw increased sales of up to 626%. Finally, on average, magazine readers spend three times as much as non-readers.

So what did the judges say? "Ideas is repositioning the Homebase brand - it makes you think differently about Homebase. The overall impact of the magazine on the business was impressive and strongly evaluated. It positions the brand away from the sawdust of B&Q."


Grand Prix: customer magazine of the year

Ideas by Publicis Blueprint for Homebase

Most effective automotive title

Onelife by Redwood for Land Rover

Most effective finance title

Home by Redwood for Britannia Building Society

Most effective travel and leisure title

Orient-Express Magazine by Illustrated London News Group for Orient

Express Hotels

Most effective public sector title

Tube by John Brown Citrus for London Underground

Most effective internal communication

Teachers by Redwood for Department for Education and Skills

Most effective business-to-business title

Preview Magazine by John Brown Citrus for Sky Business Division

Most effective consumer publication (retail)

Asda Magazine by Publicis Blueprint for Asda

Most effective consumer publication (non-retail)

New Home by NatMag Contract Publishing for Berkeley Homes

Specialist communication of the year

PowerOn by Origin Publishing for Roland (UK)

Launch of the year

Ideas by Publicis Blueprint for Homebase

International publication of the year

Lexus by Just Customer Communication for Lexus

Online publishing solution of the year by John Brown Citrus for Royal & Sun Alliance

(More Th>n)

Integrated marketing solution of the year

Army/Camouflage by Haymarket Customer Publishing for the British


Journalist of the year

Andrew Jefford, Waitrose Food Illustrated, by John Brown Citrus for


Designer of the year

Tim Scott, United Review, by Haymarket Customer Publishing for

Manchester United

Editor of the year

Sam Upton, Army, by Haymarket Customer Publishing for the British



Title: Asda Magazine

Client: Asda

Publishing agency: Publicis Blueprint

In the four years that Publicis Blueprint has had the contract to publish Asda Magazine, the title has forged a role at the heart of the supermarket giant's multi-platform communication as the medium where the company's key messages converge.

Its principal objective is to encourage greater frequency of visit by secondary shoppers, without alienating its core readership of primary shoppers. However, the past year has seen developments in the strategy in response to customer research. The result is a new format, a fresh cover look and an increased print run, at no extra cost to the client.

The research revealed that shoppers were disappointed at not always being able to pick up the magazine, so more copies had to be produced.

By reducing the size and format of the magazine, changing the print process and challenging suppliers' costs, production costs were reduced by almost 25%, enabling the team to deliver a 30% increase in print run, which equates to about 2.2 million copies a month.

With ABC figures up by 16% in 2003, Asda Magazine is now the leading women's monthly and significant sales uplift has been seen across beers, wines and spirits, household products, grocery products, and health and beauty products.

The judges selected the title as the winner because it was "spot on for the target audience and had done a really good job".


Title: Lexus

Client: Lexus

Publishing agency: Just

Lexus magazine is the main communication vehicle for Lexus owners worldwide.

Its European edition is translated into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, English and Russian. There are localised versions for the German, Dutch and English markets, with separate pages generated by local editors and agencies. A separate US edition was launched in October 2002.

The judges thought Lexus was an "indulgent magazine that brings the brand lifestyle of Lexus to life. It doesn't feel that it belongs to any one country - it is an 'asexual' international brand. Yet the magazine is tailored in terms of content and format to the local market."

European dealerships have noted increased uptake of local events, increased dialogue with customers, more test-drives and more data-capture opportunities.


Title: tube

Client: London Underground

Publishing agency: John Brown Citrus

Sent out to Travelcard holders, tube's objective is to communicate with London Underground's (LU) 'core' customers. It aims to avoid accusations of propagandising, so honesty underpins the content.

Tube forms a relationship between customers and LU by showing the faces behind the company's network and carrying real-life stories about the people who keep the system running.

The magazine also rewards the reader, both financially through inspiring offers and incentive deals, and with information.

Research found that 63% of readers feel they now have a better understanding of the problems faced by LU, 45% feel more positive about LU having received the magazine and 78% say they are likely to visit the places mentioned in the magazine.

The judges felt the magazine was a desperately needed communication forum, and hoped it would go on to address commuters' issues with the Underground.


Title: Teachers

Client: Department for Education and Skills (DfES)

Publishing agency: Redwood

Received by 360,000 state school teachers every other month, Teachers is designed to build awareness of government policy and developments in education, and to provide readers with an informed and balanced understanding of relevant issues.

Produced in two versions - for primary and secondary school teachers - it has to engage a readership with little time to spare. According to reader research, 86% of teachers see the magazine, 72% read three or more issues a year and almost half of those read every issue, while 74% find the magazine informative.

Through an independent panel of 200 headteachers, teachers and classroom assistants, the DfES knows readers are responding to the magazine, with many visiting recommended web sites, discussing projects and organising school trips as a direct result of what they have read.

The judges say: "It is practical, full of variety and upbeat. It highlights key messages and is well signposted."


Name: Sam Upton

Title: Army

Client: British Army/COI

Publishing agency: Haymarket Customer Publishing

With an editorial team of three, Upton's challenge was to create a tight, hard-working team not only capable of creating a consistently dramatic and exciting magazine but also of producing a number of Army recruitment brochures.

Army magazine's aim is to encourage its 13- to 16-year-old readers to join up once they reach 17. Working to a tight brief, Army achieves one of the most difficult objectives in publishing - selling a lifestyle to a teenage audience. Two years into the Camouflage recruitment campaign Camouflage members (Army readers) have now filled up all of the Army's available Junior Entry places.

The title has attracted strong support from the Army at all levels. The Chief of the General Staff requests his own bundle of each issue for the House of Lords Defence Committee.

The judges say: "In only a year working on the magazine, Upton has captured the brand, the audience, the objectives and the language, with an explosive impact."


Name: Tim Scott

Title: United Review

Client: Manchester United

Publishing agency: Haymarket Customer Publishing

United Review is the official match-day magazine of Manchester United Football Club, produced for every game at Old Trafford. The challenge was to transform it into a publication with the values of a high-end newsstand title without losing its functionality as an event programme.

Art editor Tim Scott led the team in creating a product that would deliver information with speed and clarity, while entertaining readers through its imaginative use of action and archive photography and lively, creative visual furniture. With constant deadlines and tight budgets, Scott and his team need to work fast without losing quality.

The judges felt this entry was strong in every area. Scott and his team, they say, "have invented a new genre: a programme with the editorial design values of a magazine".

The designs have become integral to the wider marketing strategy of Manchester United, with Haymarket Customer Publishing being commissioned to produce other marketing material for the club.


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