From the Editor: The New 'Brand' of Ad Sales
Necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems that in our industry's case, necessity has prompted many magazine publishers—faced with declining ad revenues and other financial hardships, or simply greater competition in the marketplace—to be increasingly inventive in their approaches to publishing and the partnerships they are mustering up.
Those like Esquire (with last fall's e-ink cover supported by Ford, and its February issue cover-flap/window featuring an ad for the Discovery Channel, among others) and National Geographic (with its recent customizable cover for its National Geographic Your Shot collector's edition) have been pushing the envelope—or the magazine, so to speak—seeking ways to offer advertisers and readers more bang for their buck.
And while some publishers have always pushed the bounds of traditional advertising concepts and programs (e.g., Hanley Wood's Site Commander trucks [TheSiteCommander.com] that tour home-improvement centers and its more recent custom road-show service), today's challenging publishing environment seems to be prompting more publishers to think "outside the magazine" when it comes to developing strategic partnerships with marketers.
For example, Working Mother magazine recently partnered with Kraft on a multifaceted marketing program for Kraft's Deli Creations packaged lunches by Oscar Mayer. In addition to "traditional" in-print and online advertising, the program included a research initiative and a contest among Working Mother's "100 Best Companies"—to win a lunchtime roundtable (and lunch from Deli Creations) with Working Mother Media President Carol Evans at the winner's office.
Another example is Hachette Filipacchi Media (HFM) U.S.'s brilliant partnership announced this summer with Rue La La, a private-sale Web site. Rue La La offers Elle.com (owned by HFM) visitors and e-mail subscribers access to invitation-only, 48-hour sales on designer brands (e.g., BCBG Maxazria, Lucky Brand) and "lifestyle experiences" (e.g., travel). Members who join Rue La La through Elle.com also get notified of "Editors' Picks" Boutiques selected by Elle's fashion team.
In late August, HFM announced another creative strategic partnership, this time with Shell, in which Shell was named as the official fuel provider for Car and Driver, Road & Track and Cycle World. So, all vehicle testing and evaluation by the brands' editorial teams are to be fueled by Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines, and the Shell brand will be promoted in all three magazines (including the Shell logo on the mastheads) and their related products. The program includes a 15-month ad schedule, online ads on all three publications' Web sites, monthly newsletter sponsorships, and radio ads on all three brands' radio programs, among others.
The partnership also will include collaboration on some research projects, says John Driscoll, senior vice president, chief brand officer, Car and Driver and Road & Track, who oversees editorial, sales and business management.
HFM's partnerships reflect the company's recently implemented strategy (under the guidance of Alain Lemarchand, HFM president and CEO, who took the helm in September 2008), says Driscoll. "We're looking at brand revenue diversification."
The Shell program is one example of what Driscoll describes as "truly a platform-brand-integrated approach."
Custom publishing projects, custom Web sites and the like are other ways that publishers are thinking beyond the magazine—and bringing in additional revenue to help offset ad-revenue decline.
We constantly hear that marketers today want more bang than ever for their selective marketing buck. And, it often takes a creative approach to come up with a package that will help them stand out from their competitors.
Something to think about.