The Strategy Interview

Geoff DawesAssociate publisher and director of advertising salesSaturday NightGeoff Dawe's sales career began in Ottawa, selling for his father's Penny Saver advertising papers.In 1980, Dawe moved to Toronto and began selling national advertising for two French magazines, Evasion and Parents D'Aujourdhui.Since...

Geoff Dawes

Associate publisher and director of advertising sales

Saturday Night

Geoff Dawe’s sales career began in Ottawa, selling for his father’s Penny Saver advertising papers.

In 1980, Dawe moved to Toronto and began selling national advertising for two French magazines, Evasion and Parents D’Aujourdhui.

Since then, he has repped for numerous magazines and newspapers and has owned Toronto-based Magazine Network for eight years.

Dawe became associate publisher and advertising sales director at Saturday Night Oct. 12.

Q. Have we seen the worst of the magazine advertising depression or are there horrors still to come?

A. I don’t think that way. I think we’ve seen the worst. I think what we’re going to see is an aggressive battle. I think what we’re going to see is something we should have been doing for years: magazines working together promoting themselves effectively rather than continually fighting against each other.

What [magazine promoters] are really saying is, ‘Get out there and really sell your magazine.’ And, yes, sell against your competition, but remember at every meeting, sell magazines.

Q. What is Saturday Night going to do?

A. I think we’re going to get out there and present ourselves strong against other media. Show that we are a very cost-efficient, targetted medium; that we have something to say against direct mail; we have something to say against outdoor; that we work very well against television.

I think one of the reasons why [Saturday Night Publisher] Jeff [Shearer] originally talked to me was because of my own company where we were known for setting up very strong promotions with rather small, obscure magazines.

We had to do that because people wouldn’t advertise with us otherwise. I think the major magazines will be doing similar programs.

A. What sort of promotions might we see?

What we did with The Magazine Network [Dawe's company] is, we did publishing-based promotions.

We were the first company to put together a program for Absolut [vodka] in Canada through our Montreal magazine called Absolut Art that profiled different artists in the city.

We used the magazine as a base and then developed advertising around that. We’ve done the bar guides; we got different alcohol companies to support that. We did a series of national fashion shows supported by Craven A years ago.

As a magazine, if you promote yourself and promote the event, you can get to the street a little more cost effectively than maybe another medium can do.

For Saturday Night, this is a magazine that hasn’t done a lot of promotions.

We’ll be looking into doing things that are compatible with the magazine. Getting involved with live arts for theatre, or producing a speaker series across the country and getting corporations to support that.

Q. Canadian versions of American magazines. Are they going to have an impact?

A. I’m not the specialist on that. I really focus my life on day-to-day get out there and sell. Jeff Shearer is the specialist.

There’s research, I believe, showing that, yes, the American magazines are up here, but the advertising in them, people don’t acknowledge it; they know it’s an American magazine.

So even if you see an advertisement for Kraft Peanut Butter in Good Housekeeping it doesn’t register because, hey, that might not be for me. It’s different packaging and all those other variables.

I also question whether people want the Canadian versions of the American magazines like [Sports Illustrated.]

I’ve heard different reports – nothing measured – that people want the American SI, they don’t want the Canadian version.

Q. Apart from promotions and a closer look at Western Canada as a source of stories, what else is in the offing to sell Saturday Night?

A. Editorially, we’re looking at doing split covers. Different covers for Western Canada and Central Canada.

We’re planning on looking at that right now, and I believe we’re going through with that because we are Canada’s magazine and yet we recognize some regional differences over a few thousand miles.

We offer split runs for advertisers now. We can do split insert programs for advertisers. We can do regional buys, Western buys for advertisers, or Toronto-only buys for Ontario only, or Ontario- and Quebec-only buys.

We’re going to be stronger with that message because our clients often do want specific regional weight.

As far as doing regional sales in the area, we’re investigating doing some kind of regional sales effort; that’s to be defined.

Q. Are there any categories you can think of that Saturday Night has not pursued as diligently as it might have?

A. I don’t think we’ve pursued quite a few categories as well as [we should have.]

We’ve started this year to pursue the business-to-business category more actively, and we’ve done well with that research and that pursuit.

Most categories we can talk to, but specific parts of those categories [are more significant than others]. Saturday Night is appealing to food, but it might be appealing to the Master’s Choice [brand] for a&p, their new upscale President’s Choice competitor.

It might be appealing for the specific gourmet food or the Italian Food Council or the French Food Council, what they’re bringing into the country. We wouldn’t be good for the mass packaged goods products.

We have an argument for the business advertisers, and even for the home office-type advertisers because of the income of our readers, the age of our readers.

I think we have a very good story for fashion. And I think the fashion story is, again, specifically against the Calvin Kleins and the Armanis of the world who are selling clothes at a particular price point.

We are also reaching a very good female reader right now, and that female, in my opinion, is the new influencer, the new female who’s making $75,000 plus. And she’s reading Saturday Night.