IMG Worldwide, Cesar Millan Team Up to Take a Bite Out of 'Recession-resistant' Pet Industry
IMG Worldwide, the New York City-based sports management and entertainment firm, and TV's "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan launched a new magazine in September dedicated to dog owners and their pets. The magazine, Cesar's Way, is looking to take a bite out of the growing pet-care market.
The inaugural issue is filled with photos of celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton and Jennifer Aniston with their pets in tow. Articles include "Can Your Dog Fix Your Marriage? Just Ask Jada Pinkett Smith" and "7-Day Doggie Detox." IMG says it plans to publish another issue in December this year and six more in 2010. Millan, who has starred in National Geographic's popular canine reality series "Dog Whisperer" since 2004, is the editorial director of the new publication.
Publishing Executive Inbox spoke with Lee Rosenbaum, IMG's vice president of publishing, to get the skinny about the publication and its goals. Rosenbaum, the former publisher of Dennis Publishing's Blender Magazine and associate publisher of Condé Nast's GQ, oversees executive sales and marketing oversight of IMG's magazine titles.
INBOX: What was the genesis for the magazine? Why did you launch it?
LEE ROSENBAUM: We felt a magazine was a great opportunity to tap into Cesar Millan's popularity. Currently, his "Dog Whisperer" TV show on the National Geographic Channel reaches 11 million viewers a week. In addition, Fox TV will soon syndicate the program, doubling the current national audience of the show. Simply put, Cesar's Way is a logical extension of the multimedia brand of Cesar Millan.
What's more, the magazine follows the format of other popular television personalities acting as editors of magazines. Oprah and Rachael Ray, for example, have been very successful in their similar endeavors.
We also felt there was a space in the marketplace for a lifestyle magazine that focuses on both families and their dogs. Unlike our main competitors, such as Dog Fancy, Bark and Dog World, Cesar's Way includes celebrity and lifestyle editorial as it relates to having a dog as part of a human family.
INBOX: Can you tell me more about the editorial focus?
ROSENBAUM: The magazine has a broader scope than the TV series, which focuses on owners with dogs who need rehabilitation. The magazine also focuses on Cesar the man, the father, the husband and the teacher of personal empowerment through leadership skills. It covers topics that improve and enhance life with a dog, both in the home and out, such as sharing a home with a dog, tips for traveling with dogs and ways to be active with dogs.
There are also photos of celebrities and their dogs, real life stories of dog owners and their dogs, letters to Cesar and his answers to readers' questions, and features with veterinarians, nutritionists and other experts. There's also a "Tips and Whispers" section that focuses on news, products and trends.
INBOX: Who is your target audience?
ROSENBAUM: The audience is really Cesar Millan fans. It enters the marketplace with a sizable and established Cesar Milan audience built through television, online, books, movies and personal appearances.
When we look at the profile of readers of Cesar's Way based on [viewers of] his TV show and [visitors to his] Web site, 89 percent own dogs, 68 percent are female and 69 percent are aged 25 to 54. Fifty-nine percent have household incomes of more than $60,000 and 61 percent have children in the home that are under age 17.
INBOX: What kinds of advertisers are you going after?
ROSENBAUM: As a result of our editorial coverage, the magazine is conducive to advertising from a broad range of non-endemic categories include shelter, packaged goods, travel and parenting/children's products. Of course, we'll also focus on endemic categories, such as pet food and pet supplies. As an example, the first issue of Cesar's Way includes ads for pet-supplier retailer Petco, Del Monte Foods dog treats and Halo pet food.
INBOX: What kinds of marketing/promotion approaches are you doing?
ROSENBAUM: We're pursuing an aggressive circulation growth strategy via retail and subscription acquisition efforts and guaranteeing a rate base of 125,000 for our December 2009 issue. We're also promoting newsstand sales heavily through cesarmillaninc.com and natgeochannel.com. We sent a digital newsletter promoting the launch to 700,000 cesarmillaninc.com opt-in subscribers, for example. We also ran on-air snipes on the "Dog Whisperer" and broad display promotions at 950 Petco stores.
Our strategy is working. In its first two weeks on sale, the September 2009 issue exceeded the average newsstand sales of the largest magazine in the canine category, Dog Fancy. It's also enjoyed acceptance at retail, capturing front-shelf and full-facing displays at Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and others. What's more, early returns from newsstand subscription offers are coming in above the industry average.
INBOX: It must have been a challenge to start up a magazine in a recession. Why did you think it was the right time to do this?
ROSENBAUM: Despite the recession, the are 75 million dog owners in the U.S., and the pet industry has proved to be somewhat resistant to the recession. People have continued to spend on their pets. You always want to make sure your family is taken care of, and Americans believe their dogs are part of their families.