Nick Holdsworth, who was central in this industry for many decades, has finally taken his final bow due to illness.
He was a Caxton/CTP media analyst for years but was best known for the vast amount he gave back to the industry on many of its core associations. He was the former chairman of the Magazine Publishers Association (MPASA) and represented the print industry on the South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf) council. He was very involved with Print and Digital Media South Africa (PDMSA) and the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC).
In 2005, Holdsworth won the Advertising Media Forum Platinum Award and in the dedication to him on the night, he was said to be “a topflight media director in his day…one of those intellectual stalwarts who has spent a lifetime chipping away at the rough ashlar of media data to ensure the polished product we have today. A fearsome eye for detail and probably still one of the only people who actually understands Dr Wally Langschmidt’s book ‘Reliability in Readership Research’.” He was also said to be “one of the driving strategic forces behind the Caxton/ NAB success story”.
As a MPASA board member, he was described (on the association’s website) as being “born with advertising and marketing in his blood, with his father having been a copywriter on the General Motors account in Port Elizabeth when he met his mother”. It also mentions that he had extensive marketing and research experience, having worked for J Walter Thomson, Gillette and Bates Wells before joining Caxton/CTP.
Saarf CEO Paul Haupt, who worked with Holdsworth as a PMSA representative on the Saarf board and council meetings, says: “Nick was often the voice of reason at our meetings and he would calmly state his opinions. His opinions were always sound due to the fact that he has been in the industry so long that he often was one of a select group that could remember the history and previous pitfalls that should be avoided.”
Jacqui Tanton, Caxton central intelligence unit manager, who had been a colleague of Holdsworth for many years in the company, says they shared a great love of research. “I called him an archive, and indeed he was – an old soul who had an incredible memory which proved to be a very useful tool on many occasions when needing to know what happened and why in particular, with regards to AMPS and the ABC.”
Debbie McIntyre, Caxton Magazines advertising director, says: “He was always the ‘go-to guy’ for any of those questions that involved any of the many committees he sat on. He would always take your questions incredibly seriously, give it thought and you’d get an extremely considered response in his charming old school way. He is a wealth of experience and knowledge with an incredible sense of fairness.”
Caxton Magazines client services manager Dee Aylward recalls, “I started in this industry as a young, gullible 24-year-old in 1996 at the iconic Republican Press. I was absolutely terrified of the advertising crowd as their wild reputation preceded them. My first encounter with this crowd was with a big, grizzly man called Nick Holdsworth. Despite his tough, formal exterior he took me under his wing and taught me the ropes in publishing.
“There was so much good and kindness in him. There are a few character traits that stand out for me. The first being his abundant knowledge of an industry that spans over decades. Nick would keep us entertained with his stories from yesteryear. Each story had a lesson that remains relevant today. He was eager to impart his knowledge to the ‘newbies’ on the block and did so with the grace and kindness of a distinguished teacher!
“Nick’s lunch ritual continued unabated for his entire career. Lunch was at 12:30pm sharp and on the occasions where I was fortunate enough to join him, I was privileged to hear about his family and his love of cats – his own and the strays that he cared for,” says Aylward. “Nick will be missed at Caxton and by the industry at large; however his legacy will speak for him now.”
Holdsworth has three daughters – Kathy, Marion and Vicki – living in England and a son in Australia. He recently moved to England to be with his daughters.