More than 20,000 people from around the world are expected to attend literary events taking place at 50 New York City venues for three days beginning Sept. 27. Events include readings, performances and discussions. Sponsors will weave their messages into the festival by painting logos on ice cream trucks, sponsoring sidewalk chalk illustrations of New Yorker covers and offering wine tastings.
Although production company Overland Entertainment, New York, is helping coordinate the event, the festival was conceived internally and the magazine's 150-person editorial staff plays a pivotal role in creating and orchestrating content, which is somewhat unusual among the growing number of magazine events.
Literary luminaries at the festival include Stephen King, E.L. Doctorow and David Foster Wallace; musicians Ice Cube and T. Bone Burnett will also be on hand, among others. All events require admission of $15 to $25 per ticket, but an event celebrating New Yorker cartoons is free to the public.
Returning sponsors include Microsoft Corp., planning to demonstrate its new Tablet technology at the event; Barnes & Noble, which is increasing its role and will provide the festival's headquarters at its Union Square flagship store; and Volkswagen of America.
One new sponsor this year is Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic, which will team with VW to shuttle people among various Manhattan event venues. Other new sponsors include Hallmark Flowers, E. & J. Gallo Winery's Turning Leaf, Allied Domecq's Stolichnaya Vodka, Delta Airlines and Inter-Continental Hotels.
In a model becoming increasingly popular among magazines offering such reader-targeted events, sponsors are not paying a separate fee to be part of the festival. Instead, each sponsor must ink a "significant commitment" to an advertising schedule over the next year, said Chris Mitchell, associate publisher of The New Yorker, who came aboard a year ago.
"Most of the new sponsors of the festival are first-time advertisers in the magazine, or they are returning to the magazine after an absence, with a substantially increased presence," he said. In turn, each festival sponsor gets category exclusivity for the event.
The lure for sponsors is the chance to have one-on-one contact with The New Yorker's highly loyal, upscale audience (circulation just reached a record 900,000, and the magazine boasts one of publishing's highest renewal rates of 77.3%), Mr. Mitchell said.
"Yes, it's expensive to produce an event like this, but advertisers have come to expect more than simply ad pages, and this certainly goes beyond added value," he said. "I call it `added value on steroids."'