Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Media Brands Bringing Licensing Dollars Home

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The beleaguered media business is still marching aggressively on at least one front: store shelves at a big retailer near you.

More and more media-branded consumer goods are squaring off against similar products from rival media brands. Earlier this month Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced a major home and outdoor line due exclusively in Home Depot next January, when its contract with Kmart officially ends. Kmart and Sears stores began selling more than 700 home products from Hearst Magazines' Country Living. And Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes and Gardens line at Walmart continues to grow, now numbering about 1,000 products after starting last year with half that number; Meredith said its total brand-licensing revenue grew 15% during the 12 months ending in June.

The recession is battering retail just like everything else, of course. But that's only making exclusive, established brand names more desirable to retailers and a diversified revenue stream more appealing to media brands. Rumors have even circulated that the top-to-bottom business review at Condé Nast could also foster a new openness to activities like licensing.

"When revenues tighten up, all of a sudden things you may have never considered before start to look more possible," said Martin Brochstein, senior VP at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association. "Licensing is definitely an area than can generate significant revenue, particularly in a time when magazines are under a lot of pressure on the revenue and advertising side."

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