New Yorker Festival Taps Sibling Conde Nast Brands for Sponsored Panels

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The Glenlivet sponsored a festival panel last year
The Glenlivet sponsored a festival panel last year Credit: Sean Walsh for The New Yorker
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The 17th edition of The New Yorker Festival begins Friday, including for the second year some panel discussions and events sponsored by brands.

Raymond James, the financial services company, will sponsor two panels on Sunday: "Food Pilgrammages," which will focus on "destination dining," and "Built Attractions," which will discuss travel.

This time, The New Yorker is tapping talent from other Conde Nast brands to sit on the panels. Editors from Bon Appétit and Conde Nast Traveler will take part in the food panel, and editors from Architectural Digest and Golf Digest will discuss travel. The reason? Because the sponsored panels are part of an "integrative" and "multiplatform" advertising buy from Raymond James, which includes paid media in all five of the titles, according New Yorker publisher Lisa Hughes.

Ms. Hughes declined to discuss the size of the Raymond James deal, but she said the two panels "align with Raymond James' sort of brand pillars for their best customers."

The New Yorker experimented with sponsored panels for the first time last year, when whisky company The Glenlivet tapped New York food personalities to discuss dining. The panel was a big success, as tickets went quickly, Ms. Hughes said.

Tickets to sponsored panels are free, which probably helps explain why this year's Raymond James-funded events are both sold out.

Online, the events are clearly labeled as "sponsored." But, Ms. Hughes said, "I don't think 'sponsored' is a pejorative. We're just being clear that this is not programmed by [New Yorker editor] David Remnick."

Live events are becoming an increasingly big part of the revenue mix for media companies, and The New Yorker Festival is no exception. As a tentpole event, it is central to hitting the magazine's advertising revenue targets. Ms. Hughes said that branded panels are here to stay, and she predicted they will become even more commonplace in the future.

In addition to the panels, entertainment company Epix is hosting three screenings during the festival, and Mexico City is sponsoring a "Day of the Dead Lounge" that will be free to explore and will host cooking and cocktail-making demonstrations.