Nobody thought Hearst Magazines could repeat the success of Food Network Magazine, a joint venture with Scripps Networks Interactive that took off like a rocket as soon as readers and advertisers were able to get their hands on it. (See this year's A-List, and last year's, and the year before that ...) But HGTV Magazine, another venture with Scripps, is making an awfully good start.
After two test issues last fall and winter performed well -- the first going back to print when demand surpassed projections -- Hearst made HGTV Magazine an "official" launch with the June/July issue. It now guarantees advertisers an average paid circulation of 450,000 copies but is handily overdelivering, with a subscription file already above 600,000. It plans to increase rate base to 700,000 next January and to 800,000 next July, putting its circulation in striking distance of some long-established titles.
As with Food Network Magazine before it, HGTV Magazine benefits from a brand established on cable TV. But Daniel Fuchs, publisher and chief revenue officer, and Sara Peterson, editor-in-chief, also know exactly what they're doing in print.
The pair spoke with Ad Age about squeezing a new shelter magazine into a market crowded with other brands -- including some owned by Hearst.
On gearing up in semi-stealth mode: "It's been fun since the beginning," Mr. Fuchs said. "This had been rumored for a while; it had been tested in the marketplace. I was working on another magazine at the company and working behind the scenes on this. When Sara and I met it was off-campus."
On the pitch to advertisers: "We've been very clear on the positioning," Mr. Fuchs said. "Hearst already has a great footprint in shelter. The HGTV brand is about your daily life at home. We position this as "home lifestyle,' that space between more broad lifestyle like Real Simple or Martha Stewart, and shelter."
On making the covers stand out from others: "It's not a whole room on the cover," Ms. Peterson said. "I believe it's easier for people to imagine this kind of vignette or moment in their own home when it's not such a big, large picture. It always has to convey an idea that feels accessible and fun to try in your own home."
On sticking to that editorial mission: "I just came from a story meeting," Ms. Peterson added. "One story got shot down because somebody said, "I don't think anybody who does this project will have fun doing it.' We said, "OK, that 's not for us.'"