It has been a hot summer for magazine tie-in promotions.
In relentless pursuit of opportunities to bring added value to their packaged goods advertisers, publishers of popular consumer magazines have been developing creative co-promotion activities that integrate in-store marketing.
As more magazines discover how to leverage the value
of in-store activity, brand marketers who play along are gaining added retail exposure that might otherwise be unattainable -- or at least quite costly.
Sometimes the clout comes from sheer numbers. When Family Circle magazine ran its second Sample This promotion day in 180 ShopRite supermarkets Aug. 6, 10 grocery and nonfood manufacturers participated.
Such multibrand clout is one reason why consumer magazine tie-ins can attract the favor of major retailers. The special quality of an event also can be the attraction, as when Cooking Light sent its customized tractor-trailer on its second summer tour of 140 supermarkets nationwide. Nine brand marketers went along for the ride.
In other cases, the sheer creativity of the promotion can help it cut through the in-store clutter. The publishers of Life magazine created a special, single-sponsor publication called Best Friends, which featured best-loved animal photography from more than 50 years of Life. Pet food maker Ralston Purina stepped up as the tie-in partner. The event won widespread retail displays early this summer.
"Everybody's looking for more bang for their buck," says Jeff Myers, senior vice president of Time Inc. In-Store Marketing, New York. His group has worked alongside several Time Warner magazines to provide in-store activities that can help sweeten the deal for their advertisers.
"In-store programs are an accountable media. They are proven to drive volume," he says, suggesting that such links may help to ease advertiser doubts about the effectiveness of the pages they buy.
While magazine publishers may be seeking added value with which to persuade advertisers, brand marketers say they are attracted mainly by the possibilities for extra exposure.
Says Martin Manion, marketing director for retail brands at McIlhenny Co., New Orleans, a sponsor of the Ask Cooking Light tour, "With the competitive nature of any retail environment, anytime we can do something unusual to gain attention of our customers, we look at it seriously. In this instance it is in-your-face kind of attention. You cannot ignore this in stores."
"I'm looking for opportunities like this all the time," says Anne Sakalay, senior marketing manager for Campbell Soup Co.'s Franco American and Pepperidge Farm gravies. "I direct our media department as they prepare campaigns to look for them. In looking at print advertising, a key thing is to see what merchandising is available."
Tera Miller, a spokeswoman for Ralston Purina, St. Louis, says her company wanted "to get in-store merchandising and to move product" through its tie-in with Life, but, she adds, "The No. 1 goal was to get people to the retailer."
Magazine publishers say they have been driven to do more of this kind of activity because the world of advertising sales is so competitive.
Says Bud Ward, publisher of Parents magazine, "The people we support are brand managers in large manufacturing companies. To compete against other magazines, we have to outdo one another to provide merchandising or added value programs."
For several years, Parents has exhibited at kids' fairs in various markets, where it distributes bags of samples, coupons and bounce-backs for its advertisers' products to young families. Last September it structured a tie-in with Pittsburgh's Giant Eagle supermarket chain in which consumers could receive a free child's admission to the kid fair with a purchase of four cans of Campbell's soup.
Retailer and marketer were both well-satisfied, Ward says, on the strength of a tenfold increase in soup sales for the promotional period.
When Franco American Gravy participated in Family Circle's Sample This demo program last month, it took an integrated approach, linking print ads in the magazine, promotional pricing and displays at ShopRite stores, along with the sampling, says Sakalay.
"At the same time, our sales reps in the New York region had arranged with ShopRite to promote Franco American gravy," she said. "We worked hard to integrate it all."
This kind of thinking by brand marketers is driving more magazine publishing companies to create new merchandising tie-ins that can divert brand marketers' attention away from the rate card to focus more on value and performance of the total program. Programs like Sample This and Ask Cooking Light take advantage of the cost synergies possible when several brand marketers participate together. But where creativity and real consumer interest are applied, as in the case of Life's Best Friends special publication with Ralston Purina, a program can serve the interests of a single brand marketer.