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Brand Strategy Random House Marketing

Penguin Random House overhauls marketing, making cuts and setting up in-house agency


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

August 23, 2022 | 3 min read

After a six-week review, Penguin Random House has overhauled its marketing and PR departments to create a single brand team that will be overseen by Rebecca Sinclair in the newly created role of chief brand officer.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House overhauls marketing to focus on digital

As part of the overhaul, the publishing giant said it made nine redundancies. It did not return our request for clarification on the roles it has cut. However, it does plan to invest heavily in its digital marketing capabilities in a bid to handle a greater portion of its strategy in-house. It is currently recruiting for several new specialist roles including in analytics, programmatic media and digital channels.

It is seeing increasing returns from its digital business and last year reported a profits increase of 55% to bring total revenue for the first half of the year to $2.1bn. Parent company Bertelsmann attributed much of its success to audio and digital book sales, as well as an accelerated shift to online retail channels.

“There is more opportunity than ever before to use the power of our brand, together with our owned channels and platforms, to reach readers and to create awareness to deliver on our mission,” said chief executive Tom Weldon of the overhaul. “And with the acceleration in the shift to online, we want to strengthen and optimize our digital marketing capabilities to sell more books and widen our reach.”

In addition to ramping up its in-house digital capabilities, Penguin has also said it will establish an internal agency to support its publishing houses with technical and creative skills throughout the publishing process to boost campaigns and enhance author brands. That division would include consumer insight, marketing attribution, design, photography and events production.

Overseeing the new department will be Rebecca Sinclair, who joined from rival publisher Pearson in 2017 as Penguin’s brand and comms director. As its first chief brand officer, she will lead the integration and set up of the in-house agency.

“Since taking on this department at the start of 2021, Rebecca has already put in place the foundations to capitalize on this opportunity, including establishing our fast-growing digital marketing team headed up by Jon Donovan,” continued Weldon. “Over the past few years, she has also been hugely influential in shaping the brand as it is today, from our social impact agenda to our company mission. I am delighted that she will continue to lead the department in this increasingly important role.”

Over the past year, the brand has worked with ad agency Rethink for a campaign that saw an unburnable version of The Handmaid’s Tale put up for auction at Sotheby’s, while it also launched a Spotify-style ’Find Your Light’ campaign that distilled the year’s literary trends and linked them to current events.

Brand Strategy Random House Marketing

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