Client: Prima Magazine
Campaign: Promotion of Prima’s tenth anniversary - October issue
PR Team: The Braben Company
Timescale: July 1996 - September 1996
Budget: pounds 20,000
Earlier this year Prima invited Cherie Booth, also known as Mrs Tony
Blair, to guest edit its tenth anniversary October issue. For ten years
Prima, published by Gruner and Jahr, has held the number one position in
the women’s magazine market but has so far been unable to achieve high-
profile media coverage. The Braben Company was hired to create a
consumer PR campaign.
G+J used Prima’s tenth anniversary issue to communicate the magazine’s
position in the market place, reinforce the title’s relationship with
its readers and boost sales.
The anniversary issue was promoted in a two-step campaign. An initial
press campaign focused on a Prima survey ‘State of the Female Nation’,
in which 2,000 Prima readers were interviewed on their attitudes to life
in Britain in the 1990s. The media interest created by the results was
then used as the launch platform for the anniversary issue.
Six months prior to her editorial debut, Booth visited Prima
headquarters on a fortnightly basis, choosing knitting patterns for
mother/ daughter sweaters, commissioning articles entitled ‘Who’s
looking after your kids?’ and ‘Dinner’s in half an hour’, persuading
Paul Costello to design her ‘ideal dress for Prima readers’ and finally
writing her own column called ‘Your Rights’ in which she answered legal
questions. Booth also met eight Prima readers over tea at the Ritz to
answer questions about her personal life.
On 12 September, the night before the issue hit the newsstands, Prima
organised an anniversary party in a marquee in Battersea Park where
staff and advertisers got to speak to Booth and her surprise guest: Tony
The campaign was a promotional success generating a considerable amount
of publicity for both Prima and Booth.
About 200 pieces ran in national and regional papers and tabloids. BBC
Radios 2, 4, and 5, IRN and all major regional radio stations covered
the story. However, since Cherie Booth refused to do any appearances,
the TV coverage, which included BBC2’s Working Lunch and Late Review
dealt mainly with the editorial contents of the issue.
‘We were very happy with the amount and quality of coverage the campaign
received,’ says G+J marketing manager, circulation Lucy Dunphey. ‘We
received a lot of reader letters about how well Cherie came across as a
very down to earth person.’
Unfortunately for Booth, much of the print coverage was negative, with
reporters having a field day with her new softer ‘homemaker’ image and
the upcoming elections.
‘She’s produced something I’d vote for - I mean buy -each month,’ wrote
Marcell d’Argy-Smith in the Observer; ‘Patronising attempt to capture
the housewife vote’ said the Daily Telegraph; ‘A Prima donna who ought
to know better’ wrote the Independent.
However, whether this was a gimmick to boost Prima sales and increase
votes for the Labour Party is not the issue. The fact that the issue
sold like hot cakes and the Prima name was seen in almost every tabloid
in Britain makes this a very successful campaign.