In the January/February edition of NZ Marketing Magazine, Lynda Brendish observed that while “Michelin, Proctor and Gamble’s radio soap operas and Aunt Daisy’s recipes were all early examples of content marketing … it’s only recently that [it] has become a buzz phrase” in the industry.
In the Kiwi market, this trend is most evident on television in Mediaworks' seamless integration of sponsors during The Block NZ, and also in the collaboration between TVNZ and Brandworld, which has already spawned Family Health Diary, Eating Well, The Mix, Made to Match and Discover.
The success of these efforts has not gone unnoticed, and print-based publishers are now also joining the native advertising party.
Since May last year, the Image Centre publishing group has been distributing quarterly editions of Meat, a content marketing magazine designed to complement the Beef and Lamb website. Following on from the success of this initiative, the publisher has now launched Toast! magazine in collaboration with Liquorland.
The first edition of the quarterly magazine was released in early January, and according to LauraGrace McFarland, the Image Centre account director for content marketing, over 105,000 issues have already been distributed throughout New Zealand.
In addition to stocking each of the 77 nationwide Liquorland outlets and the Air New Zealand Koru lounges with the magazine, Image Centre has also sent it out via some of its major publications, including Dish, NZ Marketing Magazine, NZ Rugby World, Good, Idealog and Weddings.
“It was really a case of filling a gap in the market. There was nothing like Meat or Dish available for alcohol-related products, so we decided to make it happen,” says McFarland.
“The magazine is aimed at those who like to entertain at their homes. It’s about showing Kiwis how much potential there is in some of the products on the market.”
To acheive this, the magazine features various cocktail recipes as well profiles of the latest products to hit Kiwi shelves.
Hotfoot* account director Fiona Kerr explains that a problem at the core of the liquor industry is that consumers make decisions based on convenience rather than an allegiance to a specific brand or retailer. And this in turn causes them to opt for the same drinks options and visit the closest liquor store every time.
“We wanted to put something in the market that could possibly override the convenience factor. We wanted to inspire consumers to step out of their comfort zones and try something new,” says Kerr.
Morgan McCann, the national retail manager at Liquorland, concurs with this sentiment and adds that Toast! also aims to pull away from the standard product and price emphasis usually employed in the liquor industry.
"Toast is about offering customers something different. It aims to share knowledge with discerning consumers who are interested in learning more about premium brands," says McCann.
Given that most consumers shy away from advertorials and pamphlets, Kerr points out that they took an editorial approach with the publication.
“It’s brought to you by Liquorland, but it has its own identity and there’s a definite focus on telling stories and engaging with the readership.”
This emphasis on brand stories is most evident in the first issue’s feature on Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head vodka, which is creepily bottled in a glass skull.
“By covering backstories like this, we're able to give a different perspective on alcohol. It allows people to learn more about the brands on the shelves and it simultaneously showcases what’s on offer,” says Kerr.
The Hotfoot account director also says that this approach helps to present Liquorland's expertise in the field of alcohol without making the message seem like a lecture.
At this stage, most of the emphasis is being placed on the print version of Toast!, but the publication also has an online complement (toastmag.co.nz) where additional content and an electronic version of the magazine can be accessed.
“We have a long-term digital strategy that will take shape as the concept evolves, but at this stage we just want to see how the first issue goes,” says Kerr.
- *Disclosure of interest: Hotfoot, StopPress and NZ Marketing Magazine are part of the Image Centre publishing group.