Hearst’s de Puyfontaine eyes digital transformation

Hearst’s UK chief executive explains to Campaign how his French heritage and British pragmatism will help build the publisher’s global reputation.

In 20s postwar Britain, women relied on Good Housekeeping to learn about everything from the best baking recipes to the latest fiction. Initially established for “women making homes for heroes”, the UK Good Housekeeping Institute, opened in 1924, began to trial a growing market of domestic appliances under the slogan “tried and tested” – which is still trademarked and used today.

Some 90 years on, the monthly magazine has survived the feminist revolution to remain culturally relevant, tackling the challenges of the digital age under Hearst UK’s chief executive, Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“This is one of the most beautiful brands that you can think of in terms of awareness, and its role in what currently is British society,” the Frenchman says. “It is a brand you are going to hear about a lot. It’s part of the story of the society because it has engaged with the households.”

With a coverprice of £3.90 and a circulation of 380,000, it is generally believed to be Hearst’s most profitable title. Major brands advertising in the October issue include L’Oréal, Marks & Spencer, Clinique, Kia and Flash.

De Puyfontaine arrived at Hearst – and on UK soil – in 2009 with a charismatic zeal that is aptly described as joie de vivre. He was a founder and former chief executive of Emap France, which was later bought by the Italian group Mondadori, and has also advised Nicolas Sarkozy on the economic challenges facing the press industry.

His office in Hearst’s London headquarters reveals a fierce patriotism for both his native and adopted lands: the tricolour adorns his computer desktop, while pencils sit in Union Jack mugs next to it. A sizeable Winston Churchill picture is framed in the corridor. He describes himself as “half and half” culturally.

Read the rest of this story and see a video of de Puyfontaine’s interview at Campaign

De Puyfontaine is a course leader on FIPP’s MBMC.

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