Don’t ask Ed Kelly for his Big Idea for the rest of 2007 and into 2008. "I am so over the Big Idea," he says. "The future is a bunch of smart, small ideas that are going to continue to makes us relevant to our advertisers and our customers."
Though Kelly says American Express Publishing;publisher of Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine, among others;doesn’t anticipate doing anything dramatically different for the second half of 2007 and into next year, here are some of his key priorities and initiatives.
First, like for many of the people interviewed for these Big Idea reports, comes e-media. "We are going to continue to invest in our online properties," Kelly says. "The future is there;not entirely there, but at least partly, so we’re stepping it up." Specifically, Kelly says, Amex sees a lot of opportunity in Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure, which he says drives most of Amex Publishing’s online traffic. "Food & Wine has a platform called Food & Wine Across America," Kelly says. It’s dedicated to a celebration of good food, good restaurants and great wine in communities across the country, where visitors to the site can recommend things and interact.
And another Amex magazine, Executive Travel, is perfect for building a social network, Kelly says. "It’s a community site where road warriors can really interact with the whole audience," he says.
Food & Wine Across America is one of a variety of strategic partnerships. Among those partnerships, several are television related. CNN and Travel + Leisure work together on a program called America’s Favorite Cities. The two brands work together to promote the contest and poll Web site visitors on their own favorites. The results will be featured in the November issue of the magazine. "It was a great opportunity to sell a major marketer into it, like Farmer’s Insurance," Kelly says. "It is a seven-digit commitment from a customer we haven’t done business with in a long time."
Food & Wine, meanwhile, has partnered with Bravo on the reality program Top Chef, where chefs compete on a weekly basis. "We’re going into our fourth season with them," Kelly says. "The overall exposure and connection with that show has greatly expanded the branding of F&W."
"The good news is I have editors who want to do all these things."
"There is a lot of call out there for digital this and digital that, but we have to reinforce the foundation of our business, which is print."
"International has really helped us expand;more readers and more marketers. We have 20 editions in nine languages. Now we can have a global conversation."
"We have been growing at a really good clip. Our challenge is to continue to
deliver big growth. That’s what our parent company wants."