Source chats to Chelsea Ellis about bringing the pages of its magazines to life for consumers.
A leisurely browse through the latest home interest magazine leaves many of us wishing we could jump into the page and live the lifestyle depicted in the beautiful imagery.
Publishing house Hearst has successfully bought into this with the launch of its Country Living Hotels. Further making its mark in licensing, Hearst partnered with Coast & Country to celebrate the best of British, providing its readers with the unique experience of bringing the interiors magazine to life.
“We were able to hand pick every part of the hotel from the staff uniforms to the font of the menu, each detail has had an immense amount of thought involved,” explains Hearst UK licensing co-ordinator Chelsea Ellis. “The beautiful period buildings offer a balance of modern services and luxury with country charm and comfort. We are incredibly happy with the result seeing the Country Living ethos of quality, charm and style come to life throughout the hotels.”
Chelsea has been with Hearst for nine years, focusing among other things on licensing related to the Hearst lifestyle titles which include Good Housekeeping, Country Living, House Beautiful, Red and Elle Decoration. It has been during her tenure that the publishing house has made big leaps in working on licensed products, with its partnership with sofa company DFS in 2012 marking a cornerstone.
“While we have been working on licensed products such as gifting and bakeware for years, we moved onto our larger deals such as our partnership with DFS in 2012 when they approached us in an effort to leverage our brand to increase their profile,” Chelsea explains.
“We launched with both Country Living and House Beautiful brands and still work with these brands today. The success of this partnership led to other brands seeing the value of the magazine titles and the ability to transcend the page, which motivated and led to new partnerships in areas we hadn’t previously explored.”
This was the moment Hearst realised there were opportunities to move into different types of licensing partnerships and, six years later, the number of partners on board is well into double figures.
“Across our lifestyle titles we currently have a wide variety of licensing partners, including our Country Living hotels with Coast & Country which launched this year in Bath and Harrogate and our wide selection of flooring with Carpetright with Country Living and House Beautiful,” comments Chelsea. “Then there is our range of sofas with DFS and even two TV series with Fremantle based on a dating column featured in Country Living about finding love in the countryside.”
According to Chelsea, much of its licensing success so far can be put down to pushing boundaries, stretching its reach and being open to exploring new areas that may not necessarily be interiors-related.
“We aim to work to identify areas that will resonate with our readers and beyond, whether that is core to the brand, such as bakeware with Good Housekeeping, or launching completely new ventures such as an experience at the Country Living Hotel. We are constantly looking to see how we can push the boundary and reach more people. Our TV shows are a great example of this, as they have immense reach outside of the UK with international versions premiering each year.”
While there are no doubt financial advantages to be had, Hearst is adamant that licensing helps to raise the profile of its core magazines, giving them the opportunity to take magazine off the page with a variety of brand extensions.
“It gives our readers the chance to engage with us in their home, on their TV and in experiences that strengthen the brand with each new endeavour. Ultimately, we aim to offer the full package to consumers who wish to engage with our brand and convert them into life-long fans.”
So with a busy year behind it and licensing clearly paying off for the publishing house, what are its plans for the next few years and aspirations for the longer term future?
“In the medium term we hope to continue to expand our portfolio and further our brand extensions. Following on from our first two hotels, for example, we are looking at new sites to continue to bring the Country Living experience across the UK. And while we continue to grow our existing relationships and expand the ranges, we would love to be able to outfit a home,” Chelsea concludes.
How Hearst titles and licensing partners marry up
Ethos: Serotonin for the soul. Smart, stylish – but most importantly spirit-lifting.
Licensing partner: Flowers with Interflora, beautiful bouquets curated with Red editors.
Ethos: The trusted consumer champion offering everything readers need to run their homes well, cook fabulously, spend their money wisely and make the most of life.
Licensing partners: Bakeware range with Sainsbury’s, diaries with Letts, cookbooks with HarperCollins UK, flowers with Flying Flowers.
Ethos: Offering stylish inspiration and practical, expert advice.
Licensing partners: Sofas with DFS, flooring with Carpetright, blinds with Hillarys.
Ethos: Offers escapism from everyday life, transporting its audience to a world where the sun shines and the grass is always greener.
Licensing partners: Wood stoves with Charnwood, Country Living Hotels with Coast & Country, flooring with Carpetright, sofas with DFS, TV series with Fremantle, calendars and diaries with Carousel Calendars, door mats with TurtleMat, flowers with Interflora and a dating website.
Ethos: A woman’s savvy best friend. The one who lives like you, talks like you, puts a smile on your face and always comes up with brilliant new advice.
Licensing partner: Flowers with Flying Flowers.
Ethos: Elle Decoration, the style brand for your home: inspiration to information, to help you live beautifully.
Licensing partner: Bathrooms with Bathstore.