When he was a television buyer at J. Walter Thompson, the young Tim
Lucas was offended by the constant reliance on the F-word for
So he moved on to the more refined world of media planning at BBJ Media,
followed by McCann Erickson, where he managed the L’Oreal account -
ideal preparation for the Ab Fab world of women’s magazines.
Lucas is now corporate business development director at the National
Magazine Company, where he is responsible for central sales. This
comprises client development, new business, promotions, international
sales, classified and accounts for nearly two thirds of NatMags’
The central sales function was initiated in 1994 and the press coverage
Emap and IPC have received for their new centralised structures rankles
with NatMags. Lucas is keen to point out that his rivals’
solutions-based group structures are nothing new. He concedes the
cross-media sales element is innovative - certainly for a company of
Emap’s size -but he is unsure of its efficacy.
Lucas is curious to see if the new Emap structure will work and
anticipates teething problems.
He rates Zenith’s Theresa Coligan highly but wonders how Emap’s incoming
magazine sales director will cope as she inherits a radical new
structure and a workforce suffering from culture shock.
Lucas predicts she will need a lot of support: ’Theresa will bring an
agency perspective, which is invaluable, but what Emap is doing is
massive and will require an awful lot of change management. It’s a
Unlike Emap, NatMags and IPC retain magazine-title teams alongside their
central sales operation. Some commentators have suggested Emap’s teams,
although able to offer a fantastic basket of goods, might be too remote
from the individual brands.
Lucas is not surprised that Emap appears to have recognised this by
recently appointing a dedicated publisher for Elle. ’Just as we did,
they will face problems when balancing centralisation with access to
brands,’ he warns.
Lucas is keen to get closer to clients but admits not all agencies are
keen on owners cosying up to their masters. Those who are more secure in
their own relationships with clients are more relaxed.
His other concern is to get closer to agency planners. Lucas regrets
that he has far more conversations with buyers and believes owners have
a great deal to offer planners.
’Planners don’t ring media owners to ask how the medium works because
they are supposed to know.’ However, he thinks this may change with the
influx into sales of more agency people with similar mindsets.
Following the recent defection of some senior names to Conde Nast, it is
rumoured NatMags is not a happy ship. But having just returned from a
Champagne sendoff for the decamping House Beautiful publisher Jamie
Bill, Lucas rejects the notion that there is any animosity in the
He also defends the charge that NatMags is looking inactive while rivals
in the women’s market aggressively launch competing titles.
’Until 1990, every market for women’s monthly magazines had been created
by NatMags. Over the last ten years, our rivals have been trying to
usurp our domination and they have failed. Cosmopolitan is still number
We publish four out of the top six women’s magazines and two out of the
top seven home interest titles. Our rivals had to launch lots of things
because they didn’t have any business and we did.’
Lucas also points to the imminent UK launch of Women.com, the part-owned
Hearst portal that claims to be the most visited women’s site in the
This will provide an online platform for the UK magazine brands.
The autumn will bring increased competition for She from Eve and Project
Florence but Lucas is unconcerned by this. In fact, he is hoping they
will create a new advertising market.
’The mid-thirties market falls off the edge of most media schedules,’ he
says. ’The more magazines there are, the more it will become established
as a valuable market in its own right.’
This article was first published on Campaign