Promotions: 'Architectural Digest' takes art tour

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Conde Nast Publications' Architectural Digest is gradually building a more aggressive event marketing program, capitalizing on its authority in art and design to creative customized events for advertisers.

Fireman's Fund, a longtime advertiser for insurance products targeting high-end households, has inked a new deal with the magazine to sponsor three multi-page advertorials throughout the year spotlighting art galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz., Boston and Washington, D.C.

Woven into the advertorial is information about insurance policies for fine art and objects, offered by Fireman's Fund. But the sponsor was also seeking a way for its agents to connect with prospects in local markets, so the magazine created a series of events for readers and local gallery clients in each featured city.

Architectural Digest spent months planning the Art Across America events, which kick off April 26 in Scottsdale, where 200 art aficionados will gather for free "progressive" cocktail parties at five top local galleries, meeting with artists and dealers. In June the event will be repeated in Boston and in October and a similar event is planned for Washington, D.C., which may also double as a ticketed benefit, said Eric Barsness, the publication's promotion director.

Although the event has a small target audience, Mr. Barsness said the effect in the local market will have significant impact due to its cachet among influential guests.

"This is designed as an intimate event, where a small group of likely prospects will make contact with agents in an appropriate setting, so influence is much more important than sheer numbers," said Mr. Barsness.

stepping up

Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. has been stepping up its own involvement in events targeting owners of high-end homes, sponsoring events at museums, including one at Manhattan's Guggenheim last year and several more gallery-based events slated throughout the year.

"Art Across America represents a relaxing yet creative forum to connect our company and agents one on one with ... potential customers who are difficult to reach with traditional media," said Helen Lo, marketing director for Fireman's Fund.

Galleries and museums are a also part of Fireman's Fund's target audience. And while Fireman's Fund also provides general property and casualty insurance, products targeting affluent customers and galleries are its fastest-growing area, said a spokesman for the company.

Fireman's Fund has teamed with Architectural Digest previously as a sponsor, along with Infiniti, of the "Wright Walk," an $85-a-ticket tour of eight homes in Oak Park, Ill., including several designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Those events have proved so productive in making connections with clients that Fireman's Fund has increased its overall event marketing activity, said Ms. Lo.

Scottsdale revisited

Separately, Conde Nast's Bon Appetit is presenting its first-ever "Celebrity Golf Invitational" in Scottsdale May 17-19, inviting readers to attend cooking classes, wine-tastings, a gala dinner, and to play golf with top national chefs invited to the event. Each event has an admission price ranging from $40 to $500 per person; several hundred people are expected, said event organizers.

Celebrity chefs teeing off include Bobby Flay, Daniel Boulud and Nobu Matsuhisa, among others; sponsors include MasterCard International, Audi of America, Tag Heuer, Bacardi USA's Bombay Sapphire, Ruinart Champagne, Sole Natural Mineral Water and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Millstone Coffee and Olay brands.

"Events are expensive, and although a lot of media buyers may think added value is not worth much, we are proving that events deliver results and, combined with media buys, they provide a connection to readers like no other channel," said Architectural Digest's Mr. Barsness.

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