FOCUS: SPONSORED SUPPLEMENTS - Now a few words from our sponsors/Client names are becoming an increasingly familiar sight beneath the mastheads of mainstream supplements. Phoebe Gay reads between the sponsors’ lines

’Sponsored supplements allow for the perfect association with a brand without screaming advertisement,’ says Simon Kippin, publishing director of Cosmopolitan.

’Sponsored supplements allow for the perfect association with a

brand without screaming advertisement,’ says Simon Kippin, publishing

director of Cosmopolitan.

And sponsored supplements are increasingly, becoming an option for PR

executives. These booklets, or inserts, are sold with a trade or

national publication and are paid for entirely by the sponsor. They are

written, however, by the newspaper or magazine’s editorial department on

a subject which may or may not be related to the sponsor. Supplements

can have the sponsor’s branding or feature its product, but the main

purpose is to create an association with a subject or cause.

More familiar to PR practitioners is the advertorial which is written by

and about the client, who approves every word. They are calls to action

and they are more like advertisements, but in the style of


Sponsored supplements have a three-way benefit, according to Robert

Avery, business development and sponsorship manager of the Times.

’Readers should benefit,’ he says. ’It gives them access to information

that they would not usually have on an in-depth basis. The client should

benefit by utilising it internally for staff, to generate response and

to support its objectives, be it an event sponsorship or a product

launch. And it benefits the Times, not just through revenue, but through

adding extra value for our readers.’

The Times has a full-time dedicated sales and editorial team seeking out

potential clients. They also take incoming queries from interested

advertising and PR agencies.

In the financial year to June 1997, the Times and the Sunday Times

produced more than 76 supplements, on topics that included tourist

destinations, the British Grand Prix and adventure sports.

But the Times has strict guidelines when it comes to editorial


’Clients have access to the editorial team and they know who the editors

are - but clients ultimately have no control over the final editorial

product. When it comes to controversial issues or competitors, it

emerges quickly if there is no point of agreement. But there must be a

synergy between the topic and the title,’ says Avery.

’Many prospective clients are unwilling to commit the money unless they

know what the topic will be and, after speaking to the editorial team,

they may or may not feel comfortable,’ says Avery.

The Guardian and the Observer also has a full-time development

department dedicated to looking for opportunities to complement the

Guardian/Observer brands. The readership of the Guardian/Observer is

sceptical but is extremely loyal to the newspapers, according to Mary

O’Hara, sponsorship manager of the Guardian and the Observer. ’We

conducted a survey of 1,300 Guardian and Observer readers between June

and December last year, conducted by Marketlink, which focused on

sponsored supplements. The results indicated that our readers accept

that the supplements are editorially-led and that sponsorship enables

certain topics to be covered that might not be otherwise,’ says


’They saw the supplement as added value and most readers kept the

supplement for two to three months and/or passed it on to two or three

people,’ she says. ’Crucially, we will only engage with clients that are

absolutely suitable. We will not put material in that alienates our

readers,’ she stresses.

Supplements this year have included a World Wildlife Foundation

supplement which focused on endangered species, Virgin Megastore’s Guide

to Summer Festivals and Haagen-Dazs’ Guide to Late Night Places to


The Haagen-Dazs guide was part of the launch of its new ice cream

flavour Chocolate Midnight Cookie last October. ’We approached the

Guardian with the objective of covering the themes of extending the

boundaries of nighttime further than midnight and at the same time

promote pleasure and indulgence,’ says Tania Littlehales, account

director for Haagen-Dazs at Biss Lancaster.

The guide was highly successful and readers asked the Guardian for extra

copies. Feedback from the public, according to Littlehales, included

praise for its longevity, reliability and relevance.

Biss Lancaster is no stranger to using sponsored supplements for its

clients. British Steel, for example, has sponsored supplements in the

trade publication Architects Journal. British Steel had been facing

serious competition from concrete which was becoming more popular with

new and upcoming architects.

The account director for British Steel Construction, Mary Stewart, came

up with the idea of a 16-page quarterly supplement entitled Steel


The supplement has the same look as the journal, including layout and

typeface. Each quarter it carries two case studies in which architects

pick an exciting building that has just been built using steel. The

other covers a favourite building.

’This case study has become a cult within the profession as each

architect tries to find the most obscure building to outdo the previous

buildings covered,’ says Stewart.

At only pounds 15,000 per quarter, Stewart finds the supplement highly

successful and very cost-effective. British Steel has plans to continue

the supplement in 1998 with a readership survey at some point next


In the world of the glossies, Cosmopolitan has published five

supplements this year covering topics such as glamour, health, shopping,

sex and reading, but Kippin admits that in only a few cases he was

approached by PR agencies.

Tatler, which has been publishing sponsored supplements for ten years,

now publishes four a year including the Veuve Clicquot Handbook to the

Season, Tatler at Home in association with Moet and Chandon, The

Tatler/Cunard Travel Guide and The Tatler Ashe Park Restaurant Guide.

Except for the Veuve Clicquot handbook, Tatler had to actively seek a

sponsor for the editorial-led ideas, says associate publisher Julie


Trade publications are also tapping into the profitable market of

sponsored supplements in order to differentiate themselves from other

publications and to provide value to readers.

Network Week and Network World, published by Emap Business

Communications, are two publications in the crowded market of

information technology titles which focus on the IT and communications

market. In March they published a supplement called Network 2000,

sponsored by Logical Networks plc.

’We decided to do a sponsored supplement with Logical because we know

its product and expertise is good and we would want to be associated

with them,’ says the contract publishing manager for Network Week and

Network World Jackie Quinn. ’Instead of sending out the supplement to

everyone, where most of them may not be read, we targeted particular

readers who are information hungry people who would want to read the


The difference in the cost of sponsored supplements between the

broadsheets, glossy magazines and trade publications is wide. For the

Times, the standard sponsorship package can cost pounds 72,000, which

includes the supplement appearing on the newspaper’s web site with a

link to the client’s web site.

At the Guardian and the Observer, sponsored supplements can cost between

pounds 50,000 and pounds 200,000, depending on what is required. At

Cosmopolitan, a 24-36 page mini magazine can run to more than pounds

100,000, while a sponsored A4 supplement in a trade publication, such as

Retail Week, can cost between pounds 8,000 and pounds 15,000.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to run a sponsored supplement should

be based not on the cost but on the PR objectives, the messages a client

is trying to communicate, and on the target audiences. ’PR agencies

often don’t hold the budget for these kinds of projects and it normally

comes from the advertising budget . But that is changing,’ says the

Times’ Avery.

Quinn agrees. ’PR agencies have a role to play in sponsored


At the end of the day it is all about making your client stand out from

the competition.’


The arena of glossy consumer magazines is a lucrative one for

supplements and historically has mainly involved the women’s press. But

PR agencies are discovering the market for men’s publications, to the

delight of publishers.

Cohn and Wolfe has frequently utilised advertorials and sponsored

supplements in glossy magazines for clients such as Heineken, Diet Coke

and deodorant brand Soft and Gentle.

Martin Thomas, managing director of Cohn and Wolfe is, not surprisingly,

a fan. ’They are creatively done and they are a supplement to media


They are a good way to communicate a complex message and are an

alternative to advertisements.’

Last summer, Soft and Gentle targeted the teenage/young women’s market

through the magazine Sugar and ran a supplement on Let’s talk girls’

talk - 16 pages of intimate body secrets. The Sugar/Soft and Gentle

special, as it was branded, was attached in the middle of the July issue

and sealed with a perforation. There was an accompanying promotion

offering readers a chance to win a Soft and Gentle ’pamper’ pack.

Sugar magazine was again the focus for Diet Coke, when the Here comes

summer! supplement was developed.

Again, the target was young girls. The 12-page special covered male

celebrities, summer fashion, and boy-watching, along with subtle

pictures of young girls holding bottles of Diet Coke. There was also a

competition to win a weekend in London.

While magazines targeting men are relatively unexplored territory for

sponsored supplements, November’s issue of Total Sport features a

24-page mini booklet for the rugby season, sponsored by Heineken. The

booklet, entitled Fourteen men and a hooker - everything you needed to

know about rugby but were afraid to ask, covers the rules, positions,

the teams and facts about the game. The magazine also offers a chance to

win a trip to the Heineken Cup Final.

Despite the branding and product placement within the supplements, the

Diet Coke, Soft and Gentle and Heineken guides are editorially


They rely purely on name and product association with a particular


Cohn and Wolfe is also attempting a multinational supplement in an

international women’s magazine for a major health and beauty brand. It

will be distributed in eight different countries. Thomas says the

supplement will be written ahead of time which allows for minimal

production work and leaves the magazines with time to check the



Sponsoring a supplement in a trade publication can be especially

effective, allowing the sponsor to reach a specific audience.

For Haymarket, the publisher of PR Week and Marketing among others, it

is essential to cover topics which are of interest to the target

audiences of a publication.

’We feel it is incumbent on us to give the readers what they want to see

every week,’ says editorial director of Marketing Publications for

Haymarket, Simon Marquis.

The benefit to sponsors is that they are buying into the brand value of

the publications. They have the ability to order as many pages as they

want and can buy into dedicated contact with their most important


Having these key benefits don’t come cheap. ’Supplements are one-off,

tailor-made projects and the price reflects this,’ says Marquis. ’The

cost of production, print, design, layout and photography are just some

of the factors that come into the price. Sponsored supplements are more

cost-efficient per page than an advertisement, but the overall cost will

be higher because there are more pages.’

He stresses that readers must know that what they are reading is a

sponsored supplement or an advertorial. ’We follow the guidelines set

out by the Periodical Publishers Association. For advertorials, we have

a different layout and different typefaces which stand out from our

normal editorial style,’ says Marquis.

Marquis was responsible for the supplement published last year in

Marketing to mark the 70th birthday of advertising agency J Walter

Thompson. He also oversees the glossy monthly Conference and Incentive

Travel, which can often have several sponsored supplements per issue.

Depending on the requirements of the sponsor, the sponsored supplements

can cross over as a supplement for other publications.

Marquis feels the PR industry could make more use of supplements.

’Haymarket is a very proactive marketer of sponsored supplements.

Perhaps PR people should see this as an opportunity for new



Prompt payment is a major issue, particularly for small businesses, but

is not one that would automatically be associated with the Royal


However, this was the connection that the Royal Mail recentlysought to

makethrough association with the Times in the form of a sponsored

supplment on the subject.

The idea for doing a sponsored supplement came from the Royal Mail’s

public relations consultancy, the Quentin Bell Organisation. By building

name awareness and association with the sponsor, the supplements can

make a lasting impression.

’We wanted to find a means of communicating the Royal Mail’s message in

a less traditional way,’ says Paul Maguire, associate director of the

Quentin Bell Organisation. We did some research with focus groups prior

to selecting the topic to determine the interest level and relevance of

prompt payment with the Royal Mail.’

According to Fiona McGilchrist, marketing manager of business

correspondence for the Royal Mail: ’Sponsored supplements are an

effective way of educating customers on how the post can help them.’

Small business owners make up a significant part of the Times’


’The subject of late payment is dear to the heart of small businesses,’

says the editor of special reports for the Times, Peter Brown.

Articles were written by journalists, and there was a Q&A with the

Minister of Small Business Barbara Roche and the Shadow Trade and

Industry Secretary John Redwood. The 16-page Prompt payment - a guide to

credit management covered topics from direct mail techniques to proposed

late payment laws.

The Royal Mail placed six advertisements in the supplement, but the

articles were not saturated with references to the Royal Mail,

underlining the crucial difference between a sponsored supplement and an


Royal Mail spokesmen were quoted in the editorial, however. ’It is

unrealistic not to do an interview with them because the issue of prompt

payment involves them,’ says Brown. But the supplement also covered

indirect competitors such as telecommunications providers.’You have to

get credibility for the supplement,’ says Maguire. ’If you try to skew

it, the reader sees right through it.’

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