From brand to publisher: Thankyou Group ups its game

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 18 August 2016
Thankyou co-founders Jarryd Burns, Justine Flynn and Daniel Flynn

Brands are turning their back on conventional advertising and encroaching more on to traditional publisher’s turf, tapping into the area of original content.

Thankyou Group’s recent acquisition of online magazine Wonderful Mama signals the social enterprise's move into the publishing space and its further commitment to the baby care category. Topshop and Cuppa and Co are currently advertising on the platform.

This year, Thankyou Group celebrated the launch of its range of baby products, which includes nappies, body wash and shampoos. The revenue from the products will fund child and maternal health care projects around the world.

Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn tells AdNews the nappy distribution provides Thankyou with inventory for more advertising, including potentially incorporating brands onto the packaging. He is also exploring the possibility of a print product to accompany nappy purchases.

He says the launch of the baby products was a huge move for the company, which he co-founded in 2008 to bring clean water, sanitation and food programs to those in need.

“There is a huge market dominance in the nappy industry, but by being in the publishing space, it differentiates us from other players,” he says.

“We don’t see competitors in the industry, we see opportunity to collaborate. We’d rather collaborate than take on the David and Goliath battle.”

“We are moving into a very competitive market so we also wanted to build a community for mums, so we could cut through,” he said.

Flynn says he has never seen Thankyou as just an FMCG business, adding as a brand you have to stay human to appeal to buyers.

"Yes, one part of people is product but they are more than that, which is why brands need to look further than just the product, otherwise it’s going to very hard to build brand loyalty.”

In what he calls a “game changer” in the publishing space, Wonderful Mama will donate all the profits from its advertising and commercial partnerships to child and maternal health programs.

“Every brand has an advertising budget that they have to spend so now both big and small businesses have the potential to make those funds have a global impact” Flynn says.

“For us the publishing side keeps the Thankyou conversation. There’s only so much you can say on a bottle of hand wash, but through content it allows us to go deeper.”

Commercial interest has been burgeoning for the ‘Thankyou community’, led and founded by editor-in-chief Emma Stewart. The site, which aims to empower women and mums, covers categories including style, health and career.

Only Chapter One

This phase of Thankyou was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign, which saw the release of its book, Chapter One, back in March of this year. It was available to consumers online for a price of their choosing and hit the best sellers list within the first 24 hours.

In the last three months it has raised $1.4 million and sold more than 67,000 copies, with some of those funds also going towards Thankyou’s expansion in New Zealand.

Last week, Chapter One was available at the ADMA Forum and sold 105 copies pulling in a profit of more than $3060. It has had also success in sales at airports bookstores and other events since its launch.

Flynn says the launch of the book exceeded any of his original expectations. He previously told AdNews the goal was to reach $1.2 million. 

“The book was very disruptive because it’s more than a book – it’s a crowdfunding concept,” he says.

“From a marketing perspective, it’s about getting the consumer buy into the brand.” 

Brands also got involved with funding the book, with NAB, Optus, Domino's and CommBank among the list of top spenders.

In keeping with Thankyou’s non-traditional approach to products, Chapter One is printed as landscape rather than side-by-side portrait pages.

“We challenged the whole convention of books with Chapter One and while we risked it being written off as a gimmick, it had huge cut through and got people interested,” Flynn says.

“We aren’t afraid to do things differently – be it in crowd funding or publishing – we’ve seen the benefits of challenging traditional concepts.

“Unless you are willing to challenge things, like traditional retail models, you probably won’t last.”

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