The Trends Story
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David Johnson – Publisher, Chairman of Trends Media Group
David has an extensive background in advertising and radio that dates back to the 1970s. As well as establishing his own advertising agency specialising in co-operative advertising, he had a major shareholding in Radio Pacific in the 1980s.
In 1982, with partner Gordon Dryden, David formed the Dryden Johnson Group. As Group Managing Director with a 50% holding in the company, he grew the business into a substantial marketing and publishing company, and established the Trends series of titles. These high-quality publications were initially designed for the Home Interest market, but were soon extended to include the Commercial Design market.
In 1987 Gordon Dryden sold his shareholding in Trends to David and moved on to new publishing projects in the education field. David continued to build the Trends brand and by 1989 had internationalised the company.
In 1999 David won the Ernst and Young New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He has continued his involvement with this programme, as a judge of the awards and through mentoring up to a dozen different entrepreneurs around the country.
In 2005 he was on the international judging panel for the Ernst and Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Monte Carlo.
He also judges a number of other Awards programmes in New Zealand.
Trends now produces more than 60 publications a year. As well as specific titles for New Zealand, Australia, USA, SE Asia, The Gulf, China and India, Trends is sold throughout the world and can even be seen in Europe and Africa.
As a global multimedia company, Trends has its own advertising agency, an SEO/social network department, and a digital television production facility producing high-quality programmes and videos for a wide range of clients.
It also has a comprehensive design ideas website ¬– trendsideas.com.
The company is run from the 66,000sq ft Trends Design Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. David says Trends has shown that it is possible to live in New Zealand, and, from a base in Ellerslie, operate a multimedia company that takes on the global market.
David is a director on a number of other company boards.
“I learn so much from these experiences,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The group has also invested in other businesses, often based around concepts and strategies developed by Trends.
David is a firm believer in online environments – an area in which he sees Trends developing an even stronger position in the future.
He is also committed to expanding the company globally, and offering the multiple media platforms in all the countries where Trends has a presence. In some countries, Trends has 100% ownership of its titles and platforms, and in other countries works with a partner.
Meanwhile, Trends is looking at further expansion with other specialty subjects outside the home and commercial design market.
The starting point
The concept behind Trends has its origins back in the 1970s when David Johnson joined journalist and broadcaster Gordon Dryden at Radio Pacific, the pioneering talkback radio station in Auckland, New Zealand. One of the projects the pair initiated was the Radio Pacific Newspaper, which packaged radio and print exposure to create a more effective sell.
The success of the project led to the formation of the Dryden Johnson Group, which continued this dual media approach by combining national daily newspaper and radio placements.
One of the group’s early clients was the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association (NKBA), an organisation founded in the United States. The NKBA wanted a campaign to promote its members by illustrating the new colours, fashions and styles an NKBA member could offer a homeowner.
That proved difficult to do in the black and white newspapers of the day, so the project evolved into a colour insert. The other innovative approach was to treat all the content for the insert as informational articles, rather than brand advertisements or brochure material.
The ‘brochure’ looked so good, it soon became apparent that, by giving it a masthead and a cover price, it could sell as a book instead of being given away as a brochure.
So the prototype version of Trends was produced – and that first edition sold so well, it ended up in third place on New Zealand’s topselling book list that year!
In 1987, David Johnson bought out Gordon Dryden’s share of the company. Gordon has subsequently had major publishing, broadcasting and lecturing successes in the field of education.
Extending the concept
The success of the first Kitchen and Bathroom books led to more titles covering other aspects of home design – Interiors, New Homes and Renovations.
The next logical step was to unify these separate titles under one masthead.
So the Trends brand and Trends Publishing were born.
Extending the brand
In 1990, the company began an expansion programme, taking the concept that had started in New Zealand and duplicating it first in Australia and then Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
This led to the launch of a US version of Kitchen Trends in 1997. After 18 months in the market, the publication had attracted the attention of Time Warner and a distribution partnership was set up. As part of this arrangement, Trends met the request of Time Warner for more titles in the series by including Home & Architectural Trends, Bathroom Trends, and Home & Living Trends. Remodeling Trends was launched in 2004.
Extending the media
At about the same time as the company first entered the US market, Trends also launched the trendsideas.com website, to extend the media it was able to offer to clients.
Trendsideas.com has become a key component of the company’s multimedia strategy. Created as a portal for the home and commercial design consumer and professional, it offers a searchable database of all the content from Trends publications, together with additional information.
The latest media to be added to the Trends stable is TrendsTV. The video production facility originally started up to produce short segments of streaming video to play on Trendsideas.com. However, the success of the product led to TrendsTV expanding to create offline video for showroom display and training purposes, and, more recently, to the production of a TrendsTV programme for distribution on DVD with the books.
Into the future
The original Dryden Johnson concept has come full circle. Clients are again offered the benefits and economies of promoting their products in more than one media at the same time – print, internet and video.
This continues to drive the strategy through which Trends is building its future business.
At the same time, Trends is working with publishers and other media companies to extend the Trends brand into even more countries … and even more media, as and when they arrive.