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

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 £313m, and Mintel predicts that by 2007, it will have seen an 8% year- on-year increase since 2002, and be valued at £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 £42.4m in 2003, and forecasts a turnover of £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.

Haymarket Customer Publishing (HCP) has won new business from brands including Olympus, Halfords and Orange, while extending work for established clients Manchester United, the army and Rough Guides. The highlight of its year was winning UEFA as a client, for which it now publishes Champions in three languages.

Although it had a storming night at the APA awards, carrying off three plaques, the agency says 2003 has been a year of consolidation.

HCP this year announced a collaborative venture with the BBC's customer publishing division, which has become more commercial, having won the Tesco Personal Finance title from Forward.

Cedar finished the year on a high, taking the main Tesco business away from Forward. In spring 2004, Cedar will publish a single Tesco title - available to the supermarket's 13 million Clubcard holders.

Just Customer Communication had an eventful year. It suffered the departure of founder and chairman Julian Treasure, won business from shopping centre Bluewater, Miller Homes and Toyota, and increased work for Microsoft with a major title for the software giant's staff.

Potter, who has a unique perspective on the industry, having set up Redwood 20 years ago, believes measurement has become critical: "Those that invest as much in working out what they get from a customer magazine as they do in producing the magazine itself will be the ones that benefit."

One company that prides itself on being a marketing agency first and a publisher second is River. In its tenth anniversary year, it won ten pieces of business, including bonmarche, Virgin Trains and Travel for The Sunday Times.

Benefiting from the renewed interest in travel and solid performance of the luxury market is specialist Illustrated London News Group, which won Most Effective Travel and Leisure title for Orient-Express magazine at the APA awards after increasing circulation by 58%. The agency also won business from clients including VisitBritain and South West Trains.

The selection and pitch process for customer publishing agencies should become simpler from the new year, when marketers will be able to use agency search and selection specialist AAR, following a deal struck with the APA. "The decision to work with the AAR to handle pitches is a major step forward," says Barnard. "The industry has never felt as 'grown-up' as it does now."


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


Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
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