The campaign, entitled “We Are Fashion,” promotes the four brands not as competitors, but as unified products that can provide the most fashion content to its readers.
It includes advertising on three billboards in New York City, seven signs at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, 44 urban panels, signs at 20 bus shelters, 10 newsstands, 50 phone kiosks, 200 taxi tops, and digital double-decker bus displays during New York Fashion Week.
Hearst is also promoting its brands indoors. The campaign involves retail display elements in partnership with Hudson News, Barnes & Noble, and Gateway Newsstands, including 250,000 Hudson News shopping bags branded with the Hearst campaign, and fashion-themed displays in 640 Barnes & Noble stores.
Incredibly, there’s more.
Fifty-eight Regal Cinemas in the New York metro area will show a one-minute behind the scenes video of the photo shoots featured in the magazines. Hearst is also offering five chances to win $1,000 shopping sprees at Lord & Taylor, placing 100,000 “Golden Tickets” in the magazines at NYC metro area newsstands.
The company is also turning toward live events, like meet and greets, at Barnes & Noble stores in New York City with the editors of Elle, Marie Claire, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Being Where the Consumers Are
So where did the inspiration for such an extensive campaign come from?
“Hearst creates the most fashion content across our platforms — print, digital, social, video — and we want to share that message with consumers, retailers, and the fashion industry," Michael Clinton, Hearst Magazines president, marketing and publishing director, tells Folio:. "These are our four core brands, and the September issues are the most exciting of the year.”
The campaign is notable not only for its extensive reach but also because of its use of more traditional platforms.
“We want to be where consumers are when they can buy our products — airports, retailers, etc.,” Clinton tells Folio:.
Offering readers the chance to meet the magazines’ editors highlights the value Hearst believes readers place on the print product.
“Reading a magazine in print is a lean-back experience, and readers really get to know our editors through the pages. This is a fun way to strengthen that relationship even more,” he explains.
However, Hearst is not abandoning advertising via digital and social media platforms. There are also social and mobile iterations of the campaign. A shorter 15-second version of the behind the scenes video will be distributed digitally and on social media through the company’s channels, as well as its partners’ channels.
Interestingly, the campaign comes only weeks after Hearst announced it was tightening its budget because of declining print advertising.
“We’ve had a great first half following a great 2014 and 2015,” Hearst Magazines president David Carey told WWD. “But we’re watching the state of American retail with some concern. We are asking our teams to be especially careful about their discretionary spending.”
When asked about why the company launched such an extensive advertising campaign in the face of these budget constraints, Clinton tells Folio: it's about being forward facing.
“We invest where we see growth and opportunity. We are even working on another print magazine launch,” he says.
To offset a decrease in print advertising revenues, fashion publications are increasingly turning toward branded content, where the industry standards are high. Notably, Hearst competitor Condé Nast’s branded content studio, 23 Stories, partnered with Gucci to produce a digital film series.
According to The Business of Fashion, 95 percent of Hearst’s “major” campaigns involve branded content. In fact, the company recently promoted Coach’s spring 2016 collection in Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, with three different, tailored approaches.
“We’re creating branded content, both print and digital, engaging readers with ‘native in print’ units in our pages and on our covers, and working closely with marketers to develop content and campaigns that perform at the same high level as editorial online,” Clinton elaborates.
Creating Luxurious, Collectible Magazines
In an environment in which many publishers are turning away from print in favor of digital, Hearst is clearly still pushing for its print products to remain at the forefront. As such, the company, like other fashion brands, is trying to make the magazines more luxurious and collectible.
“In March of this year, we upsized Elle and Marie Claire, which now are the same lush, oversized experience as Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country, so all of our fashion/beauty/luxury brands have a high-touch value for readers and provide a big, beautiful canvas for marketers,” Clinton says.
Although the decrease in print ads can be partially attributed to a struggling fashion industry, he says the “We Are Fashion” campaign is a “unity call.”
“We are all part of the fashion/retail ecosystem, and our businesses are intertwined. Transitional moments are an opportunity for us to bring fresh thinking, innovation, and big ideas to our clients to help drive their business,” he says.
In line with that, Hearst is sending out a supplement for the four September issues called “The Linda Wells Report,” created by Linda Wells, the beauty editor-at-large for Hearst. The report focuses on luxury beauty, and includes portraits of model Ondria Hardin and an essay written by Wells regarding what constitutes luxury beauty today.
"This project represents everything I love about beauty and media,” Wells said in a press release. “I was able to report trends, test products, conceive the visuals, and sink my teeth into writing. It also allowed me to indulge my appetite for luxury products, which have never been so elaborate or so flat-out luxurious as they are today."
One million copies will be mailed to select subscribers — those who have a strong interest in beauty and a high income.