Food Network expands borders, rate base and campaign

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Food Network brand continued its multichannel outreach efforts this week, launching a Food Network Canada mobile app for Blackberry and announcing another rate base hike for its eponymous magazine.

With its January/February 2010 issue, Food Network Magazine will increase its rate base to 1 million copies. The glossy, published in partnership with Hearst Magazines, officially launched last month with a rate base of 400,000. It reports that it will deliver a 100% bonus on the August/September issue, which is on newsstands now. Direct mail campaigns in January, March and June of this year helped boost subscriptions, as did TV spots on Food Network and online subscription sales.

“Of course, the consumer trend towards cooking more and dining in is certainly helping as well,” said Alec Casey, VP, group consumer marketing director, Hearst Magazines. “We are continuing to test all sorts of marketing sources, with Internet and direct mail being our largest contributors.  We have done an enormous amount of testing in direct mail — creative, offers, incentives, you name it.  We have found it to be a critical part of our strategy to help us isolate and quantify what elements are most important to our prospects.”

In April, Food Network Magazine announced it would increase its rate base from 400,000 to 900,000 in October 2009, with plans to move to 1.1 million in August 2010. However, Casey reports, the magazine is already delivering a 900,000 circulation. The magazine has applied for membership to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which will perform an initial audit of its February/March 2009 and June/July 2009 issues. Once that is complete, Food Network plans to release ABC Publisher statements for subsequent issues in 2009 and in the future.   

“It's a case of catching up,” Casey said of the rapid rate base hikes. “Demand for the magazine continues to be so much stronger than we imagined, we felt it made sense to increase our rate base now rather than wait another six months. In launching any magazine, it is always easier to determine the consumer demand once you have a few issues out there.”   

Food Network also reached out to Canadian fans this week with the release of a free, Blackberry-friendly mobile app. The app, created on the Polar Mobile Smart platform, features “Recipe of the Day,” how-to videos and the ability to search, browse and save recipes.

The Smart Platform will allow Food Network Canada to track analytics on users. Food Network brand consumers — those watching the network and reading the magazine — tend to be married, well-educated, relatively affluent females.

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