NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It's an oft-buzzed-about concept: marketers as media brands. And HGTV's new partnership with Lowe's is a perfect example.
The pair has teamed up in a deal that will see HGTV create exclusive content for the home-improvement retailer, as well as lend Lowe's its on-air talent. Kim Myles, host of the network's "Myles of Style," will appear in a series of online videos for Lowes.com, as well as respond to questions on Lowes.com and on one of the retailer's Facebook pages, Lowe's Creative Ideas. In addition, HGTV talent (another personality is close to signing on to the Lowe's program) will compose a column for each of the five issues of Lowe's Creative Ideas magazine, due out next year. And, if that weren't enough exposure for HGTV, the network is also entitled to a page of advertising in each issue, as part of the deal.
But HGTV won't be paying for the privilege, Lowe's will. The retailer will get exposure on HGTV, of course, through on-air and online videos, that will coincide with the debut of each issue of Creative Ideas. Not to mention it will be associated with a trusted, knowledgeable brand and experts.
"There are very clear messages in the marketplace that marketers are interested in these types of relationships," said Jeff Meyer, senior VP-internet sales for Scripps Networks. "Content is extending past 'I'm going to put an ad on TV.'"
HGTV execs say these sorts of deals will become more and more prevalent, as marketers look to utilize assets -- such as established media brands and talent -- across platforms. "What [marketers] don't necessarily have are assets that are portable across these different platforms," explained Mr. Meyer. "Our content, in relation to these markets, provides them a means to engage customers across these different platforms."
John Dailey, VP-ad sales for HGTV, said that for many years Lowe's strategy was to run commercials on HGTV, but over the last three or four years, since Lowe's has been working with OMD, its media-buying and -planning agency, the relationship has changed. Lowe's became an integrated sponsor of the show "Rate My Space," for example. But after two years, HGTV was charged with finding a new outlet for the retailer.
"The agency gave us a new set of priorities in March of this year," Mr. Dailey said. "It was really almost a 180-degree turn in emphasis in the sense that Lowe's saw a need to talk to consumers differently. They wanted to use TV and online more convergently and efficiently to talk to people. They needed to begin talking to consumers, particularly female consumers, about being a provider of one-stop home solutions. The leading platform for talking about that was going to be Creative Ideas."
Creative Ideas' circulation is estimated at about 2 million. A slimmed down version of the magazine is distributed free to consumers who opt in, while the full 80-page version can be purchased in-store for $2.98.
OMD referred calls to the client. Lowe's declined to comment.
Mr. Dailey says the program is unique from an HGTV perspective in that custom content will be created and aired within HGTV's boundaries as well as Lowe's. It's also rare for HGTV to lend its talent to marketers, and it's the first time its talent has worked with Lowe's.
"It's recognition of the fact that we're all in this together," Mr. Dailey said. "They're no longer simply the advertiser, and we're no longer simply the media platform. They view themselves as a media platform, safe to say, and, yes, we certainly do too. ... To have our talent be an authoritative voice inside an advertisers' very large platform is certainly a compliment to what we do on HGTV and HGTV.com."
The deal wasn't necessarily more challenging from a negotiation standpoint, Mr. Dailey said, noting that the challenges are in the execution. "It's more complicated to serve targeted needs than mass needs," he said. "And being a two-way street obviously presents challenges. We have an identity as HGTV, so we're working carefully with them on making the HGTV voice part of their mix."
Still, Mr. Dailey says that he has no concerns that HGTV will become too closely aligned with Lowe's as a result of the reciprocal nature of the deal. "As a leading lifestyle brand, our job is to create content," he said. "The better job we do for Lowe's, the better for Lowe's and the better for our business."