Yesterday's ASA figures showed a $10 million decrease in ad revenue for the mag industry. And fairly tight times are forcing publishers to innovate, whether it be through branded content, new advertorial products, online initiatives or special issues like Tangible Media's just-launched NZ Rugby World 1st XV and The New Zealand Weddings Planner.
On sale next week, 1st XV, which is edited by Herald rugby writer and 2011 editor of the year Gregor Paul and follows up from the special issue celebrating 25 years of Steinlager's All Black sponsorship last year, aims to tap into the increased interest in the sport at all levels after the RWC and, at the same time, prepare future stars for life in the professional era.
"We profile the top 30 schools, focus on the old rivalries, identify the leading payers and provide guidance, with the support of the NZ Rugby Players Association, on the pathway to professionalism," Tangible publisher John Baker says. "For any rugby fan this is a must have and will become a regular annual fixture."
First XV school rugby is basically the New Zealand equivalent of college football in the US and it has a big, loyal following. In many cases the rivalries—and spectators—are just as intense as provincial rugby and Sky catered to that demand when it started showing school games live on the Rugby Channel two years ago. But Baker says the commercial success of the publication proves it's an area of the game that deserves more attention—and an area of the game that also represents all that is good about the national sport.
The New Zealand Weddings Planner, which will no doubt lead to men everywhere quivering in their boots, was a year in gestation (the same amount of time required for an Ass, Baker says) and he says the New Zealand first is a very significant new initiative for the magazine.
Like 1st XV, he says it was very well supported by advertisers, and supermarkets and booksellers have also embraced the innovations.
"This unique planner is an additional publication to the four quarterly issues of New Zealand Weddings. With checklists, timelines and mood boards, it is an invaluable tool to guide brides-to-be through the wedding process. The planner will be a constant reference over the engagement period and a precious keepsake after the event. It's nice to see print being used to such good effect."
Baker says the two new additions, which will both be produced annually, "continue the strategy of brand extensions that develop deeper engagement with targeted communities of interest" and, in the case of New Zealand Weddings, strengthens its ambition for category leadership.