Three months ago I wrote about the inspiring coffee klatch that I had enjoyed with some of the Caxton Magazines team discussing their approach to branded content. It was therefore, with some excitement, that I accepted their invitation to join them for an “exclusive” presentation of “360 degree innovation at its finest”. The slightly hyperbolical tone of the invitation was an instant reminder of the enthusiasm and passion I had experienced during our discussions. Britta Reid elaborates.
Caxton House does not bear comparison with the futuristic opulence of the new MultiChoice offices, but it there is a brightness and a distinct sense of energy in the place. Every one of our hosts was wearing cool orange Converse sneakers, a quirky indicator of Caxton’s commitment to escape the boring and usual, and one that even the least visual of my industry colleagues noticed.
Anton Botes, the group magazine executive, amusingly recounted how often he is asked if he believes he will have a job in five years time. Of course, the spectre of imminent obsolescence can be a remarkable catalyst for innovation. It was precisely that dedication to forging a new path that the irrepressible Clive Vanderwagen and the reassuringly experienced Debbie McIntyre set out to share with us.
McIntyre spoke about the evolution of the Insights Hub that she has founded, quadrupling the Caxton Magazine resources devoted to understanding the consumer. In real terms that only takes the head count to four people, but it is a clear sign that the team has understood the need to add value to their offering. She spoke of their recipe for creating business magic by counterbalancing youth and experience, and bringing diverse talents and skills into play. The team now boasts marketing qualifications, a psychology degree and one in social media. The Insights Hub is strategically situated to ensure that its work underpins the development of bespoke client proposals. She also underlined the investment the company is making into research.
It was then Vanderwagen’s turn to demonstrate the proof of the pudding and he did so with verve, as he introduced us to Bona Mo, which extends South Africa’s iconic and “most read” magazine into the television space. Linda Mali, the editor, champions the brand in this medium. She has a warm and natural TV presence.
All new initiatives need sponsors and in this instance the mighty Unilever came to the party, with the Dawn brand. Vanderwagen took us through the case study of the campaign that the Bona team developed together with Unilever and their agency teams. The project was a cross platform competition in which the prize was a mobile day spa. Print, television, social and digital media were all drawn together. There was a seamless fit between the media and personal care brand, and the editorial involvement felt quite comfortable – there was no queasy sense that editorial integrity was being compromised. The competition generated a pleasing 28 000 entries.
The next innovation was that the Caxton Magazine team had worked with Telmar to test their new multi-basing programme using this campaign. Multi-basing enabled the Caxton team to provide the client with an integrated view of the delivery of the print, digital and television components of the campaign. As Jennifer Daniel wittily pointed out to me after the presentation, while the actual research data might be breaking away from the comfort of the old single source approach, Telmar can still help put the pieces back together to give us a total view of media delivery.
From the client perspective this adventurous foray with Bona seems to have been a most positive experience. Nicole Mills, communication channel manager (Personal Care), said that they “were very excited to work on the Caxton TV initiative, and for Dawn to be the first brand to be involved in Bona Mo.” She continued by underlining that “working with the Caxton TV and Bona teams was seamless, the sales team, client strategy team, insights team and Mali were fully involved with Unilever and our agency teams from the onset of the project. It has been an absolute pleasure working with them and we look forward to more exciting projects together in the future.”
Both Mills and McIntyre were quite open about the fact that they were learning on the job. As Mills put it “ the campaign is still running and we are making relevant tweaks to the off-air components as we go, but to date have been very happy with the results and feedback we have received”.
It was certainly refreshing to have a case study so openly shared (although everyone was predictably cagey about the price of the campaign). South African clients tend to be notoriously reluctant to allow case studies to be released, which inhibits the media from promoting their wares.
It was also once again inspiring to spend time with “mag hags” (Vanderwagen’s description) who are so passionately committed to taking their brands into the future.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.