IT’S ALL ABOUT THE VALUE ADDED: Given the ad slide in publishing, it’s no surprise Hearst Magazines is pulling out all its tricks for the third iteration of its corporate marketing program, 30 Days of Fashion, this September. The program includes a 92-page special onsert sent to a million subscribers of Hearst magazines, an interactive Web site complete with blogs, a TV series, contests and promotions and sponsored events from concerts to fashion shows. And probably anything else Hearst can develop in the next few weeks.
The program this year covers Harper’s Bazaar, Seventeen, O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Cosmogirl, Town & Country and Esquire. MasterCard, Estée Lauder and A Diamond Is Forever are the main sponsors of this year’s program, with each receiving ads in the supplement and on the Web site, and, since brands are increasingly demanding their own spotlight, customized events. The latter is a new offering this year, explained Michael Clinton, Hearst’s executive vice president, chief marketing officer and publishing director. “Last year, we did one big event at the Hearst Tower with an event with photographer Peter Lindbergh and fed all the sponsors into the event,” he said.
Debby Hughes, senior vice president of global sponsorships at MasterCard said the fashion-based program provided a counterbalance to its other sponsorships. “We realized that our portfolio was significantly weighted toward men” — the brand is a sponsor of Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League — “and we needed a richer dialogue with women. Fashion is a universal currency for women.” On Sept. 4, the company will host a event with Tory Burch at the Hearst Tower, where the designer will show her spring collection.
Of course, the current business environment in publishing makes programs like 30 Days or WWD parent Condé Nast’s Fashion Rocks even more important this time around. Hearst hasn’t been immune to the downturn. As of July 21, the most recent data reported, ad pages through the September issue at Seventeen are off 5 percent, Cosmogirl’s declined 15 percent and Cosmopolitan’s ad pages declined 13 percent, according to publishers’ estimates.
According to Clinton, 30 Days has grown to a sizeable business for Hearst. The company now dedicates a staff of 12 to 15 to the project, compared with six three years ago. The program has expanded to Australia and the U.K., and has spun off similar events in the home and beauty areas. This year, the company is committing “seven figures” on a promotional campaign for 30 Days of Fashion, including full-page ads in Time Out New York, fashion trade outlets, taxi tops and bus shelters (last year, the company spent less than $1 million on promotions). According to Clinton, the program generated $25 million in advertising, fees and sponsorships this year, tripling its revenue from 2007. And beyond driving revenue to Hearst Magazines’ corporate division, individual titles used it as a much-needed boost to their own business. Jill Seelig, vice president and publisher of O, struck a partnership with Lycra that resulted in the fiber’s manufacturer, Invista, placing an eight-page advertorial in the September issue. “Without 30 Days, it may have been a smaller program,” said Seelig. — Stephanie D. Smith
THE GRAY LADY SQUEEZED: The New York Times Co.’s stock dropped 6 percent to $13.24 on Tuesday after a report from Bloomberg that the company is facing pressure to cut its dividend “as credit quality deteriorates amid record advertising declines.” A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment by press time. As reported, Standard & Poor’s BBB- rating was placed on CreditWatch negative three weeks ago, and on Tuesday, Moody’s Investors Service told Bloomberg that one option to save the Times’ rating from falling to junk status is to decrease its dividend.
In June, ad revenue for the New York Times Media Group fell 18.3 percent and the publisher’s net income fell 82 percent during the second quarter, to $21.1 million. — Amy Wicks