If you’ve been a waking person for the last few weeks, you know there is a “Downton Abbey” movie coming. But Town & Country is hoping to attract the superfans of the show with a new “collectors” edition of the magazine.
“I’m not sure if there is a more Town & Country show than ‘Downton Abbey,’ although ‘Succession’ is proving to be a contender,” Stellene Volandes, the magazine’s editor, said. “We’ve been covering the show since it premiered [in 2010].…chronicling it in every way we possibly can.”
When the movie adaptation was set over a year ago, Volandes made sure T&C put in its bid for a cover story. “We had to have it,” she said. Elizabeth Angell, T&C’s digital director, said she first sat down with the movie studio last spring (so before the movie was publicly announced) and that a cover package was already under way. But the package remains purely editorial, not a sponsored package by the studio, Volandes said.
Ultimately, all of the planning resulted in a large print and digital package of “Downton Abbey” content, from an online takeover with “Downton”-themed content to a group cover with Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Allen Leech, along with an exclusive preview clip and a sit-down with the costume designer on the reproduction process for a royal tiara that makes an appearance in the film. Only the newsstand edition of the October issue will include the extra “Downton” content, however, along with special cover paper and a special price of $9.99. Volandes said this strategy makes the magazine “a luxury product and a special thing that readers can go and buy and keep.”
But with the true marketing bonanza that’s happening around “Downton” in the run-up to its premiere this week — Amazon hosted an in-store event in New York, brand The Art of Shaving released a one-off “Downton Abbey” shave kit, there’s a full limited-run exhibit of sets and costumes on display in Boston and pitches for media outlets to cover everything from premieres to talent to costumes have been coming hard and fast, not to mention the constant TV commercials and the papering of neighborhoods with movie posters — T&C felt there was still a space for a “special” moment.
“Though other people are covering it, T&C is such a natural place for [the movie] to live, it does stand out,” Volandes said. “As an editorial staff, we’ve been covering this show and the world it shows so extensively that we’ve been able to pull out pieces of it that no other brand could.”
And not since the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, has T&C put together a package quite this extensive. The magazine’s coverage of the wedding and everything surrounding it last year broke a number of traffic records. “Downton Abbey” is right on the mark for the magazine’s audience, which Angell said “loves everything British.”
“They want to travel British, they want to know about British brands, the whole world that ‘Downton’ embodies they want,” Angell said. “I’d say slightly less than half of our total output right now is loosely categorized as Anglo.”
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