Automakers and lifestyle magazines are joining forces to sponsor branded events and content to target affluent readers. The promotions range from galas to luxury vacations to fashion guides.
Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan North America Inc., promoted its redesigned M-series sedan at last month's Academy Awards. Infiniti partnered with Vanity Fair on what both called "Campaign Hollywood."
The car appeared prominently at Vanity Fair's Oscar-night party, attended by A-list Hollywood celebrities and heavily covered in the magazine. The party included a light display featuring the graphic design Infiniti is using to promote the M series.
JoAnn Lawler, Nissan's lifestyle marketing manager, says Infiniti's partnerships with magazines such as Vanity Fair allow it to reach consumers in ways that go beyond traditional print advertising.
The Hollywood campaign "aligns with the lifestyle that would reach Vanity Fair readers. Our top markets are their top markets," Lawler says.
Getting film industry royalty behind the wheel of the M series is "a very good crowd influencer," she says.
Infiniti and other companies are working with men's magazine GQ on a program that takes over a popular nightclub for a weekend. The program, called the GQ Lounge, has visited major markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and vacation spots such as Aspen, Colo. Car companies make their vehicles available for test drives by club patrons.
Jeep Division and Hearst Publications are offering a fashion supplement and sweepstakes in the March issues of Hearst magazines Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and SHOP Etc.
The magazines have a combined circulation of nearly 5 million readers, most of them women.
"The Jeep program is a great example of what we try to do with all our advertising," says Jeff Hamill, senior vice president of advertising, sales and marketing for Hearst's magazine group.
A Jeep-sponsored advertisement supplement in several Hearst magazines promotes events and shopping in major cities.
"All advertisers are looking for real customized connection points with consumers," Hamill says. "They want things that fit with their brand and other communications strategies."
Hamill has worked on about 15 cross-marketing programs with automakers. A program last year paired Cadillac with Zagat, a restaurant and nightlife reviewer, to produce an entertainment guide that appeared in Hearst magazines.
Mercury is working with Cargo, a men's shopping magazine, to sponsor a golf outing next month at Oak Creek Country Club in Phoenix. About 100 local representatives of the magazine's 4,000-member reader panel will attend the event, which will display the Mercury Montego sedan.
Cargo Publisher Alan Katz says his magazine's editorial format offers ample opportunities for cross-promotion with automakers.
"It enhances their brand, working with automotive companies and talking to our readers using music, sports and fashion," Katz says. "We try to offer (automakers) new ways to showcase to customers."
Other automakers work with travel magazines to offer readers vacation activities that include a healthy dose of luxury marketing.
BMW of North America LLC and Conde Nast Traveler sponsor a program called "European Delivery." It enables BMW buyers in the United States to come to Germany to pick up their cars - and to enjoy a European holiday as well.
"We want to match the two brands," says Jon Paul Buchmeyer, a spokesman for Conde Nast Traveler. "We encourage readers to take a specially organized trip to Germany. They can go on driving tours, stay at the best hotels, eat at some of the best restaurants and tour the factory."
BMW and Conde Nast Traveler promote the program, which began in 1999, with mailings to subscribers and brochures in dealerships.
Says Buchmeyer: "BMW loves this program, because it connects people's love of cars with the travel industry."