Andrew Cook leading 43 Bauer Media brands to market after merger

Andrew Cook

• ‘Sector has suffered from negative media. Magazines are not dead!’

The new director of sales for Bauer Media Australia has returned to the magazine publisher where he worked previously when it was ACP.

Andrew Cook hasn’t spent much time though inside 54 Park Street in the past few weeks, with most Bauer Media employees continuing to follow government guidelines by working from home during COVID-19.

Integrating the new Pacific titles and teams and learning about those titles hasn’t been easy with the staff in lockdown. “We are managing to engage with clients though with our IT allowing us to get the job done,” Cook told Mediaweek. It’s a daunting job – even the slimmed down Bauer and Pacific portfolio combined is 43 brands.

Cook agreed that magazines had been beaten up more than other media in recent times. “After being out talking to the market there remains a huge amount of interest in magazines and the history of our titles including the amazing women and men who have been editors.

“If you look at the data, magazines might represent 1% of total ad spend, but we seem to be getting a much bigger share than that in media news at present. It is disappointing to see negativity about the brands. We are truly excited about what the future holds for the new Bauer. There has been an unnecessary beat-up about what has happened.”

SMI data for 2019 indicated magazine ad revenue was $88m in a market worth $18b.

Cook’s CV in the past two decades includes ACP for 11 years, followed by six running sales at SBS and then two years at News Corp Australia.

“My decision to join Bauer was made back in October 2019 with the opportunity to again to run a sales department. I enjoyed my time at SBS where I was also director of sales. I was given a great opportunity at News Corp to look after The Australian and the prestige titles [including Vogue Australia and GQ] – there is something to be said for having complete autonomy.

“The chance to work with Brendon Hill [Bauer CEO], Andrew Stedwell [CFO] and Sarah Belle Murphy [Executive GM publishing] was too good to pass up.” Hill and Stedwell worked alongside Cook during his years with ACP.

“There were interesting times during my ACP years working on everything from The Bulletin to the men’s magazines at the time we acquired Emap.”

Cook is keen to remind people about Bauer Media’s reach to Australian women and how they engage with the different Bauer brands. “We might not the biggest and best in every category, because we are not, but when it comes to what we know about women will be useful to clients.

“When clients are talking about women we want to make sure we are not forgotten about. Magazines are not dead!”

Cook and his team are sharing the findings of its annual survey HERpulse which shows a lot of readers are wanting to take a break from the bad news of COVID-19. “Magazines are able to help readers escape and to help them with their mental health.”

Cook doesn’t think it will be hard to sell the benefits of the group while some of the key titles are not currently being published. “Our ambition is that those paused titles come back as planned.

“One of our key focuses will be the heartland category with Better Homes & Gardens, The Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and New Idea. The scale that those magazine can offer can be made available very quickly, especially in terms of the weekly titles.

“It is a very short term market at the moment which is why we have ensured the fashion and beauty titles that paused have kept their digital options open. The return to print of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and InStyle will be determined by the market though and consumers and advertisers returning to spending again with more confidence.”

The sales teams for the various titles in the merged business used to be fierce competitors. Pacific salespeople used to explain why the Bauer brands were no good, and vice versa. How will Cook manage the change of messaging to clients?

“Now we are all the one company under the one roof our offer is about how we can provide our clients with an even better solution with all of the products. It is important to be able to talk about the power of Woman’s Day and New Idea together, rather than continually beat themselves up.

Looking at how the ad dollars going into magazines has plunged over the past 10-15 years, how confident is Bauer about bringing back lapsed print advertisers?

“We have a compelling story the market will want to hear about,” said Cook. “The story will make some clients who haven’t been using us recently to reconsider the offer as a group. We are now much bigger and reach 6 in 10 Australian women every month.” Cook added the print audience when added to the digital reach gives advertisers a decent sized audience they can connect with.

See also: Bauer Media brands now reach six in ten Australian women, subscriptions surge 60% due to COVID-19 crisis

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