Would you buy a blender from Conde Nast?
Mediaweek recently reported that Conde Nast is scrambling to keep pace with initiatives from other publishing companies such as Hearst, Time Inc. and Hachette by introducing ideas branching beyond the pages of a magazine. One specific idea mentioned was keeping the brand names alive of shuttered magazines such as Gourmet and Domino by branding them on products like kitchen appliances.
In the last few months Hachette Filipacchi announced a Woman’s Day Cookvook, Car & Driver cell phone accessories and several iPhone applications for Elle Magazine. Hearst unveiled plans for its own Skiff e-reader and beginning this month, the company will offer a “reimagined” version of Esquire available exclusively on the iPhone. Time Inc. recently purchased a personal shopping engine called StyleFeeder that will be affiliated with InStyle Magazine and aims to bolster its “digital presence.”
The message is clear: keeping a magazine brand afloat means offering more than just the magazine itself. These companies are assuming that because readers enjoy the magazine, they’ll also enjoy another product endorsed by the brand.
Making content available across a variety of platforms is one thing, but what happens when content is no longer available anywhere such as with Gourmet and Domino? When Gourmet shuttered last fall, its closure was mourned by readers and industry professionals. Do you think the same people who turned to Gourmet for recipes will turn to the brand for a blender? If someone never read the magazine, would they still buy the product?
With all this cross-branding, it seems the magazine industry is taking a page from the king of cross-promotion, KISS member Gene Simmons. He shamelessly brands KISS on everything from children’s apparel to coffins, called “kaskets.” Simmons has made money from these ventures but also sunk to a parody of himself. The KISS name can’t be taken as seriously or viewed as prestigious when it’s slapped on any old product.
A company like Conde Nast will show more discretion than Simmons in attaching its name to a product, so don’t expect to see a Domino-branded diaper any time soon. But would you buy a product affiliated with a shuttered print publication? What do you think of the current cross-promotion trend in the industry?
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