Mags move to TV, marketers tag along

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magazines might be stymied in their attempts to embrace Madison & Vine tactics in their pages, but their increasing presence on TV is opening up new opportunities for advertisers to piggyback on a title's reputation. Two very different titles, Entertainment Weekly and Better Homes and Gardens, are currently readying programs involving major advertisers and TV shows.

Entertainment Weekly is in the midst of producing a raft of TV specials for cable channels. According to President Andy Serayan, Entertainment Weekly has had great interest from the magazine's advertisers to get involved in those TV projects.

"Several of our advertisers have asked about TV. We believe in building our brand [on TV], and bringing the advertisers is the next step," Serayan says.

big growth

The company has its first TV series in the pipeline and has shot a pilot of a regular Entertainment Weekly branded series with an unnamed cable channel. The Time Inc. title already works with MTV, Bravo and AMC to supply themed shows. Next up is Bravo's airing of "The Biggest Little Things of 2004," a look at the past year in popular culture. MTV aired two specials over the summer, while AMC has a deal to air five specials.

Sandy Drayton, VP-communications and TV development, Entertainment Weekly, says: "There has been a huge growth in our ability to include advertisers in our events. The next step is to include them into our TV specials as well. We have a lot of programming." Maybelline and Revlon have sponsored Entertainment Weekly events while Evian sponsored its Academy Awards viewing party last year.

Meredith Corp.'s blockbuster shelter title Better Homes and Gardens already has a commitment from Discovery Home to air a 10-part TV series. "Better Home Better Living House: America's Home Program," will air on Discovery Home Channel sometime in the fall of 2005. The two parties already share a common advertiser, Home Depot, which has an overall deal with Discovery Networks.

Home Depot is able to make the most of its promotional budget by tying in with Better Homes and Gardens which is organizing how-to clinics at its stores while the magazine helps build interest for the TV series later in the year.

The series is based on the idea of building America's dream home from suggestions sent in by 60,000 readers. Better Homes and Gardens' editors and designers will appear on TV.

"We had been speaking a lot about a number of different programming concepts with Discovery," says Daniel Lagani, VP-publisher of Better Homes. "We knew that Home Depot had a deep relationship with Discovery and this was an opportunity to work on behalf of the marketer." Mr. Lagani said the magazine, with its 7.6 million circulation, has an extraordinary reach for its partners. Discovery Home is available in 37.5 million homes.

David Karp, senior VP-general manager of Discovery Home said: "We had been looking to work with Better Homes and Gardens for some time. They are the leaders and have the largest exposure in this field. This is a major initiative for us and we'll build on it in the years ahead."

Discovery has also worked with Elle Decor on a special highlighting designers in November, Karp says.

special issues

Similarly, Kraft was able to execute a cross-platform campaign for its products by working in concert with both Time Inc.'s People and A&E Network on a themed project focused on family celebrations during the holidays. While People wasn't involved in A&E's "Hollywood Home Movies," the special theme issue was requested by Kraft which promoted the TV show in its pages as the exclusive advertiser.

Of course the idea of cross-platform media offerings is nothing new. Erik Thorkilsen, president of This Old House Ventures and offshoot Find, helped pioneer the concept of magazines becoming multi-media brands. Thorkilsen helped set up Martha Stewart Omnimedia's offering tying together a TV show, magazine, Web site and merchandising for advertisers. He sees magazines extending far into other mediums and explained how the Time Inc. title has provided how-to segments for Home Depot's Web site. "It's all further illustration of how you can reach the consumer."

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