RDA Defies Housing Market With New Shelter Title

Fresh Home to Repurpose Content from Australian Magazine

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Reader's Digest Association has already introduced one new magazine into the teeth of recession this year, a quarterly called Purpose Driven Connection, part of a platform built around the Rev. Rick Warren. Now the company is preparing an encore: a home-improvement magazine called Fresh Home that will arrive on Feb. 27, in the midst of a housing meltdown.

The first issue of Fresh Home will include 33 advertising pages from marketers such as Ikea.
The first issue of Fresh Home will include 33 advertising pages from marketers such as Ikea.
The launches may appear counterintuitive at a time when the media business is under siege, but in each case the company has a plan. It hopes Purpose Driven Connection and its extensions beyond print will find a ready foothold in existing evangelical networks. Fresh Home will benefit from a very different tactic: adopting and adapting much of its editorial content from a sibling title in Australia.

"The majority we were able to repurpose," said Alyce Alston, president of the home and garden group at Reader's Digest Association. "You could call it cheap or you could call it smart."

The company also hopes Fresh Home's focus on thrifty, do-it-yourself projects will appeal to young homeowners even in an uncertain economy. "Does that resonate right now for consumers?" Ms. Alston said. "It went off the charts."

Advertisers include Benjamin Moore
The quarterly's first issue will include 33 ad pages from marketers including Ikea, Elmira Stoves and Benjamin Moore, which is using the title to help introduce a new brand called Ben.

Fresh Home, in fact, is the only shelter title on a list of magazine buys for Benjamin Moore that includes Wired, Details, Real Simple, InStyle, Shape, ReadyMade and O, the Oprah Magazine.

"The shelter category is pretty cluttered," said Tracy Baird, VP-media director at the New York office of Cramer-Krasselt, which handles the Benjamin Moore account. "There's a lot of the traditional feel in the category. Fresh Home brings a fresh perspective to that -- a much more youthful, much more contemporary, much more fun feel and edit. If I could find a perfect book for Benjamin Moore, it would be Fresh Home."

The magazine will start out with a paid circulation of 300,000, sold through subscriptions and on newsstands, including distribution at chains such as Walmart, Home Depot and Safeway. Ms. Alston, who is also president of the health and wellness group at Reader's Digest Association, said she hopes Fresh Home will eventually publish six or 10 issues a year.

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