Meredith signs licensing deal with Wal-Mart

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Meredith Corp. has signed a multiyear licensing agreement with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Products sold at Wal-Mart under the agreement will be based on Meredith flagship magazine Better Homes and Gardens. The exclusive line of home goods will be in Wal-Mart stores by fall 2008.

"We believe Wal-Mart is an ideal partner for the Better Homes and Gardens brand," said Art Slusark, VP of corporate communications and government relations for Meredith. " Independent consumer research revealed that Better Homes and Gardens readers are frequent Wal-Mart shoppers. Additionally, the Better Homes and Gardens brand was associated with æhigh quality' by 74% of survey respondents - higher than any other brand in the space, including Martha Stewart.

Meredith currently has a 15-year licensing agreement with Wal-Mart for Better Homes and Gardens outdoor and garden products.

Slusark said that products will be available first in North America. Expansion beyond North America is expected, but the company does not have a timetable.

Products will be marketed across Meredith's media platforms, which include magazines and television. However, no editorial content will be used to sell the Wal-Mart products.

The products will include bedding, bath accessories, dinnerware and throw pillows, making this deal the largest Better Homes and Gardens product extension in the brand's history. The creative team at the magazine will assist in product design.

Slusark said he didn't see the licensing agreement affecting print advertisers directly, but, he pointed out, it will raise brand name visibility with a large number of American consumers.

The company has been steadily expanding its brand footprint this year, signing deals with Universal Furniture for Better Homes and Gardens-branded furniture and real estate franchiser Realogy. The Realogy agreement formed the basis for the Better Homes and Gardens real estate network, slated to launch in July 2008.

Better Homes and Gardens has a circulation of 7.6 million. Its Web site reports 5 million unique monthly visitors.

Meredith, headquartered in Des Moines, IA, publishes 25 subscription magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Family Circle. It also publishes special interest publications and books. The company owns 13 television stations and recently launched the broadband channels Better.tv and Parents.tv. Additionally, Meredith owns more than 40 Web sites.

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