(More) Effective Launch Events
The launch party is a staple for consumer magazines, with new publications looking to generate buzz with swanky soires. But just how effective are parties when it comes to jumpstarting an enduring brand? From Elle Girl’s $50,000 "Hot Issue" launch to last year’s $125,000 re-launch of Radar, the magazine world is littered with lavish, expensive parties that see their hosts fold months (if not weeks) later.
To create more of an impression, new consumer magazines should be looking at branded events that show what they can actually do for both readers and advertisers. When Time Inc’s All You debuted in September 2004, it was referred to as "the Wal-Mart magazine" due to the retailer agreeing to be the exclusive seller of the magazine at launch. While getting the stamp of approval from a retailer that accounts for five percent of all newsstand sales is certainly a blessing, it’s not automatically a sure thing (look at the now defunct American Magazine). All You made its mark not with a New York launch party (the antithesis of its Middle America brand), but with a series of in-store events that brought readers and advertisers in direct contact to with that brand.
All You created two sampling events in 2005;"A Fresh Start to Spring" and "Yes You Can";that featured brand sampling at all 3,600 Wal-Mart stores across the country. Sponsors;who pay between $150,000 to $200,000 to participate; got potential exposure to an audience of 130 million women. "If you say to a client that there’s going to be an event in 25 stores, they basically yawn and say ﾑLet’s move on," says publisher Diane Oshin. "They want scale."
The magazine tapped its base of "Reality Checkers";readers who talk to the editors on a regular basis;to go into stores and evaluate the events. All You also paid strict attention to detail, from hiring brand ambassadors that actually looked like the magazine’s 25-to-54-year-old target audience to ensuring compliance at individual Wal-Marts.
After each event, All You is seeing double digit increases in single copy sales, according to Oshin, who advises publishers to let the events grow. "Often when you create something, your own organization may tire of it and throw it out before the consumer learns this is a branded event."
Getting In On The Ground Floor
When Rodale’s Best Life launched in 2004, it looked for an event that could become its signature, rather than crowd in with other sponsors. It found an opportunity with the Vail Film Festival, which launched about the same time and was looking for its own partner to build credibility. "We were looking for a big signature event that would also resonate with our brand and put advertisers directly in contact with readers," says publisher Mary Murcko. "Vail was one of destinations that popped for us by promoting a sophisticated, healthy lifestyle."
Best Life joined the festival in its second year and was able to make a big impact. All branding for the festival features Best Life and much of the marketing goes through the magazine, including a sweepstakes that drew 72,903 entrants. On site, the magazine features The Best Life Lodge stationed at the bottom of the chair lift, giving sponsors an opportunity to get in front of attendees, including L’Oreal offering facial massages and Subaru shuttling VIPs. "Since we’ve been part of it from the start, we’ve been able to give them access to the festival," says Murcko.
Still, smaller publishers without the deep pockets of a Rodale or Time Inc. can benefit from events. Chile Pepper, a 97,000-circulation monthly, has had tremendous success launching high profile events with lean budgets. Each year, Chile Pepper draws more than 800,000 attendees to its annual Zest Fest food festival, sells tiered sponsorships and receives media promotion in
excess of $20,000.