On the eve of the 10 year birthday of Stoppress, founders Martin Bell and Vincent Heeringa reflect on how it arrived almost stillborn.
Our baby first appeared as a yellow, printed section in NZ Marketing magazine. We’d bought the ailing magazine following the collapse of the ill-fated 3 Media in 2009.
The insert, called Stoppress, was a collection of press releases and advertising gossip that was inserted at the last minute before publication.
“What the hell is a news section doing in a monthly magazine?” we asked. The internet was already full swing, as was Facebook and Twitter. People were consuming their news on iPhones. It seemed logical to us that NZ Marketing should have a daily updated blog full of the kind juicy, spirited debate that advertising folk are famous for. But a stitched insert?
“Nah, it should be like this,” said Ben Gibb, our indomitable sales lead: he brought up Campaign Brief. Oh, that is good, we agreed. No one thought to ask Campaign Brief.
Su Yin Khoo, our designer, and Matt Cooney, our editorial lead, quietly retreated to their corners and built a blog format based on a shameless imitation and called it Stoppress just because they had no other helpful instructions from us.
It looked like a million bucks. We lined up a bunch of potential advertisers and the first to say yes was David Walden, then head of Whybins TBWA.
“How much do want for it?” he asked.
“It’s worth about $6k a month,” Vincent replied.
“Piss off, Heeringa. You promised me lunch about ten years ago and I’m still waiting.”
“So if I buy you lunch …”
“I’ll think about it.”
Devo didn’t think long. He gave us $6k for the year, bless him.
In advertising, the first sale is always the hardest, closely followed the second, third and fourth. But to our amazement, others piled in. Vernene Medcalf was beside herself with excitement. Between her and Ben Gibb they blew the budgets into the weeds. Shortly after, the exceptional Ben Fahy arrived to take it to editorial levels we never anticipated. The team smashed it, making us publishers look good.
But the truth was Stoppress was a great idea just waiting to be done. We just happened to be there.
This story is part of our wider celebration of StopPress’s 10 year anniversary. To check out more, click here.