In the midst of all the headlines last October detailing the deterioration of the nation’s stock market and banking system—not to mention the folding of more than a few consumer magazines—you may have missed this one: The Food Network launched a print magazine. Already well-established on TV and the Web, the brand culminated its multichannel integration by entering the print medium.
Partnering with publisher Hearst Corp. on a 50-50 joint venture, Food Network Magazine was launched Oct. 11, 2008. Since then, positive news has followed. The magazine’s initial circulation of 300,000 was quickly bumped up to 400,000 after just three weeks of distribution. Several additional circulation increases now have brought the number to 1 million just a year into its existence. Frequency also will be increased starting in 2010, from bimonthly issues to 10 issues per year.
Subscribers aren’t the only ones who have responded favorably to the magazine. National integrated advertising deals—on television, online and in the magazine—have been signed with such household names as Clinique, Intel, American Airlines and others. Food Network Magazine Publisher Vicki Wellington discussed with Publishing Executive what this partnership has done to create a rare magazine success story this year.
With so many consumer magazines struggling now, to what do you attribute Food Network Magazine’s success?
Vicki Wellington: It [was] launched at the right time, with the right idea, at the right place. The biggest thing, of course, is the brand. This brand has been in development for 16 years now, and they’ve succeeded in such a tremendous way in creating this whole genre. Sixteen years ago, you didn’t have the celebrity chef stable that you have now. … You see these fantastic, beautiful, entertaining celebrities everywhere. …
We’ve been able, as a magazine, to really capture the essence of this brand for what it is today—meaning the food piece of it, the love of food and entertaining, and, as importantly, this entertainment piece of it from a celebrity chef standpoint. I think that’s what’s set us apart. …
What’s done to cross-promote the magazine in the Food Network’s other media channels?
Wellington: Everything. This is a solid brand with … a fanatic following from a consumer perspective. You turn on the Food Network and you’re going to see [celebrity chef] Guy Fieri … talking about his fantastic Super Bowl party. [He’s] going to say, “If you want to check out what I’m having at my Super Bowl party, check out this month’s issue of Food Network Magazine.” [In] the magazine, you see Guy and all his pals, everything served at the party, and then you see, “Go online and vote for your [favorite] recipe.” Food Network makes the best use of each of those particular venues, which is what we all should be doing. …
How did the Food Network and Hearst partner on this project? How does the partnership work?
Wellington: … Food Network knew it had a terrific brand, and it realized a magazine would complete [what] it was. It was already doing a lot of integrated packages with advertisers, and it realized [a print product] would be adding to [its] entire circle. And Hearst, at the same time, had had a number of successful joint ventures, [such as] the Oprah magazine and Marie Claire. Conversations started, and we realized that we are very like-minded in our thinking.
It’s like any other marriage—it’s important for the people in place to have the same goals and priorities. … They want very badly for this magazine to be successful, and you can see it in everything that they do.