Magazine A-List 2009

Better Homes and Gardens Is No. 2 on Ad Age's Magazine A-List

Meredith Title Pushes Beyond Print With Expansion of TV Show, Licensing

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Better Homes is a very big magazine, but we can't help but notice it hasn't stopped at the print edition. This year it expanded its Better Homes and Gardens line of licensed products at Walmart, for example, to around 1,000 from 500 at the start.

In December 2008, Better Homes teamed up with House Party to create 1,000 Holiday Cookie Swap Parties around the country. It says 19,000 people applied to be one of 1,000 hosts, 13,000 people attended the events and 2,800 photos were uploaded to

Let your brand flex its muscles and find new revenue sources by adding platforms in media, retail and events.
Gayle Goodson Butler
James T. Carr
That same month it began a partnership with Five Star Mattress, a bedding company begun by the owners of Serta, to develop a line of Better Homes branded mattresses. In July, it started working with ServiceMagic, a site connecting homeowners with contractors.

The brand then spent the summer working with "Live with Regis and Kelly" on the show's "Ultimate Hometown Grill Off," with promotions in the magazine, online and on-air. Last August it introduced, a photo service for families.

Better, its nationally syndicated TV show, now available in more than 50 markets, is also available at Its episodes in 2009, including its 500th show, included brand integration programs for marketers such as State Farm, Procter & Gamble and Sears Kenmore.

"The biggest difference between Better Homes and Gardens and almost every other magazine brand is that Better Homes really is a brand that lives in many different ways," said Andy Sareyan, chief brand officer at Meredith's National Media Group and president of Better Homes and Gardens.

And BH&G, the core magazine, got a renovation of its own earlier this year, something Meredith proudly points to as investment amid so much recessionary retrenchment.

Its ad pages fell! But that doesn't really need the exclamation point: declines arrived for most magazines, of course. The good news for Better Homes and Gardens: They only slipped 2.15% through the October issue, according to the Media Industry Newsletter.

1. Women's Health
2. Better Homes & Gardens
3. Family Circle
4. The Economist
5. People
6. Essence
7. The Week
8. Backpacker
9. Cosmopolitan
10. National Geographic
"There's been an evolution in the selling strategy," Mr. Sareyan said. "The sales and marketing staff describe it as 'Where life happens.' It's not just about your home. So technology is not a category you would've put in the same sentence as Better Homes and Gardens a number of years ago. But the concept now fits beautifully with how one leads their life in their home." Consumer electronics and technology advertising increased ad pages in the title as a result, accompanying growth from direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads, home goods and pet products, among other categories.

Where newsstand collapsed by 36%, Better Homes points out that the last couple of reporting periods experienced big bumps because of a pilot program. That program's economics didn't work out, so it's discontinued, returning Better Homes to a more historically typical level over the first half. Better Homes maintained subscriptions with a 1.5% increase, so the whole paid and verified average still topped 7.6 million, just 0.2% below the first half of 2008, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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