At a time when publishers rooted in print have been forced to rethink commercial models, Hearst has branched out into TV advertising via Hearst Made, its in-house content marketing agency.
In what is a first for the publisher, Hearst UK has produced a series of TV and digital edits for Asda’s clothing brand George and the launch of its summer fashion range. Filmed in Mexico, the ad campaign was broadcast across all national TV stations with spots before and following British TV programmes Coronation Street, Bake Off – The Professionals and Love Island.
Directed, shot and produced by Hearst Made, the campaign also included a photo shoot for in-store and press ads, plus content for digital and social.
The campaign comes nine months after Chief Executive James Wildman led a commercial overhaul at Hearst Magazines that brought an end to its siloed, title-led approach in favour of two content divisions and four agency sales ‘hubs’ in bid to forge a “much deeper” relationship with advertisers.
The UK publisher, which owns 22 titles, formerly operated in a brand-by-brand structure, with individual client teams on each title – if an advertiser wanted to buy across the Hearst portfolio it would have to negotiate with 22 different sales teams. Wildman implemented a strategy to make it easier for clients to navigate Hearst and remove silos preventing it from pushing package sells.
Speaking to The Drum last autumn, Wildman said, “My sense is we should lead with these things that are interesting for advertisers which are the revenue diversification opportunities for us but for them it is a deeper engagement with brands.”
Victoria White, Editorial Director at Hearst Made, says: “We set out to create digital and social content that promoted the messages of strength and individuality that the new ‘We are George’ is all about and successfully replicated this in the TV campaign,” before adding, “Hearst Made originally launched as a content agency, but as we adapt to clients’ needs we are now expanding into commercial production.”
Heart’s transition from magazine publisher to a fully fledged content empire that includes creative advertising services marks a profound shift in the relationship between brands and publishers. In a move that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago, it also places the role of advertising agencies under scrutiny, as their traditional gatekeeper role between brands and publishers dissolves. It also demonstrates how publishers are seizing the opportunity to leverage their editorial and content expertise into new revenue streams.
It comes months after Condé Nast brought in TV executive Dawn Ostroff to launch Condé Nast Entertainment and turn original stories from the publisher’s magazine brands into films, TV shows and digital content.