The view from the 44th floor

NYC: Day 2. Elevators still a conundrum. Jeff Hamill ‘81, Executive Vice President of Hearst Integrated Media, guides us to a conference room on the 44th floor boasting a 180-degree view looking north on Manhattan’s West Side. To the right, we can see the southwest corner of Central Park, and to the left, the Hudson River, and even into New Jersey. Some kind soul has set up a spread of bagels, muffins, pastries, fruit salad, coffee, tea, water, and juice and I’m thinking, I could get used to this. Hamill jokes that none of the refreshments would be there without advertising, as he launches into a presentation he gave to the folks at Procter & Gamble just recently on the very subject.

Hamill & class

Jeff Hamill addresses the class

The presentation details Hearst’s new content initiatives, what they’re calling “Unbound,” in order to  re-conceptualize the supposedly “dying” print market. Hamill admits that newspapers readership is falling dramatically, but points to a chart that shows how from 2007-2014, the number of print magazine readers has remained remarkably consistent. Hearst Corporation owns 21 separate magazine titles, all of which reach over 80 million readers annually. With this “Unbound” campaign, Hearst will push advertising boundaries to engage and connect with readers, thus maintaining—and hopefully increasing—the appeal to advertisers following.

One of these avant-garde advertisements is for Guess Jeans. Hamill describes a patch of denim with a real zipper featured in one of their magazines, that when unzipped by the reader reveals the advertisement. By engaging the reader, these advertisements go farther. It is innovation, Hamill insists, that brings results, echoing a similar statement from Stacy Morrison ’90 during yesterday’s visit to ASME. Because magazines rely almost entirely on advertising to support their content, Hearst has discovered new ways to push the envelope—or unzip the zipper—in order to stay ahead of the game.

But focusing on print advertisements isn’t all Hearst is doing lately. “From months to moments,” Hearst is adjusting its business model to accommodate millennials. The corporation recognizes that in addition to monthly magazine distribution, advertising and content initiatives will benefit from constant digital platforming. He describes a Marie Claire collaboration with TRESemmé titled “10 Hair Styles You Can Do in Literally 10 Seconds” (http://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/hair/how-to/g2614/10-hair-styles-you-can-create-in-literally-10-seconds/) that offers original content for MarieClaire.com as well as additional advertising space for TRESemmé—a win-win. The website can then repost this article (and any others like it) to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., ultimately producing immediate content for their followers. This brilliant campaign proves Hamill’s opinion that social media has become the driving force in content consumption, and that is something Hearst is ready and prepared to take advantage of.

From our class’s individual presentations on magazines of our choosing, we know that advertising is an essential and lucrative aspect of the magazine industry. Hearing from Hamill helped us to understand why. Now if only we could figure out these futuristic elevators…

— Elise Petracca

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