It was 2007 and we were interviewing an economist about prospects for the UK. “It’s all looking good,” he declared cheerily down the phone. “The underlying economy is strong. There are a few issues with the mortgage market in the US and a couple of building societies here have hit problems but, overall, we are set for continued growth.”
A couple of weeks later he rang back, sounding worried.
“Please drop the article,” he said.
“Things have changed.”
That was something of an understatement. The global economic crisis had arrived and six difficult years followed. As a creative content agency working largely in the financial services sector, we faced challenging times as projects we had been awarded were abandoned and budgets were slashed. But if it was tough for us, it was even harder for some of our clients. There were endless rounds of restructures and job losses. Uncertainty reigned, morale was rock bottom and the kudos that once came from working in banking went into reverse drive. One comms manager told us that a neighbour had taken to blanking him, holding him personally responsible for the economic crisis.
Having worked closely with organisations such as Lloyds Banking Group, Scottish Widows, RBS, Standard Life and Equiniti, we were on good terms with some committed and talented comms & marketing people. We knew it was absurd that they were being tarred with the same brush as bogeymen such as Fred Goodwin. One day, we thought, we’ll launch a magazine for them. That day has arrived, and the magazine is called Poppy.
‘Poppy’ is an old slang word for ‘money’ and we think it’s a good name for a magazine offering genuinely useful food for thought about comms & marketing in the finance world.
In simple terms, we’d like to share some great ideas with you. We’re keen to hear what you think of our articles — please do tell us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apart from our experience of the recession, the launch of Poppy was inspired by several trends we have observed in design, marketing and publishing:
Boring business magazines
Most business magazines haven’t changed in 30 years. They rely on the same tired, cluttered formats, with content designed to attract advertisers and promote events. They’re boring to read and even more boring to look at — black and white pics of middle-aged men in boardrooms abound. Our financial services clients are a diverse bunch of individuals and we want Poppy to reflect their adventurous spirit and enquiring minds.
Many of our clients tell us that they are constantly fighting fires — work is busy and stressful; they don’t have time to think about the big picture. That’s where Poppy can help. Each issue will comprise a small number of in-depth features exploring big ideas that deserve attention.
We enjoy reading a magazine called Delayed Gratification published by the London-based Slow Journalism Company. Conceived as a reaction to the 24–7 rolling news agenda, it reflects intelligently on the past, providing a fresh perspective on stories that have fallen off the news carousel. Poppy is informed by some of that thinking and doffs its cap to their pioneering work.
The scribes of News International could learn a few lessons from the way content marketing journalists create copy. We don’t tap phones, ruin people’s lives or sit in ivory towers. Instead, we work with our clients to create accurate, useful, well-written content. Poppy takes the same constructive approach. Each feature is created by a talented writer working closely with an industry-leading expert. We call it collaborative journalism.
The golden age
A fresh generation of entrepreneurs is shaking up the magazine world. Publications we admire include Monocle, The Gentlewoman, Cereal, Printed Pages, the aforementioned Delayed Gratification and our own award-winning Hot Rum Cow. The influential blog MagCulture describes this new wave of craft publishing as ‘The Golden Age of Magazines’ — and Poppy is keen to spread the golden rays of this enlightenment through the backwaters of business magazine publishing.
If you enjoyed Poppy, why not check out our latest project, White Light’s Got Issues. It’s an exploration of the anxieties and opportunities that impact on the comms and marketing professional — and in many cases everyone else for that matter.