Jack Essig, SVP, publisher & chief revenue officer, Hearst Men’s Group talks new initiatives, advertising partners and the group’s booth at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
When you joined Hearst in 2011, the Hearst Men’s Group (HMG) was just newly formed. How has your go-to-market strategy changed or evolved since then?
Jack Essig: Upon joining the newly formed Hearst Men’s Group, I set out to align four credible men’s brand —Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, and Road & Track—as one coherent group buy. The winning strategy we developed leverages the Group’s dual audiences—enthusiast and lifestyle—to uniquely amplify our partners’ campaigns across the broad range of men’s interests, from style to culture and from DIY to auto. To help achieve this, I assessed our structure and talent with the aim of creating a more efficient use of resources. We have benefited tremendously from shared marketing and art teams, as well as the strategic selling of our teams’ category experts. These relationships help widen the field of advertising partners, and in many cases encourage advertisers to consider other brands in our group.
Can you talk more about how the HMG enthusiast brands also help advertising partners to influence a broader lifestyle audience?
Essig: Having the auto-focused titles in our group has given the lifestyle titles a distinct advantage with advance knowledge of launches, budgets and priorities for automotive manufacturers. This information has allowed us to create overarching strategic programs that can be customized to connect with the audiences specific to each title. For example, we know that the average enthusiast influences more than six car purchases a year. This represents a powerful selling tool for us in making the case why an auto manufacturer needs Car and Driver and Road & Track but should also consider the Esquire and Popular Mechanics audiences to ensure far-reaching market penetration for in-market consumers. Through this strategy, we are able to expand from the enthusiast space to create more lifestyle opportunities across the rest of the Men’s Group (and the rest of the Hearst portfolio, too). The result has been Esquire having number one market share in auto in its competitive set at 33 percent.
Tell us about some of your most recent wins and successes?
Essig: From 2014 to 2015, we more than doubled the revenue tied to the multi-title deals that encompass the Hearst Men’s Group titles—Lincoln MKC and MKX, Mercedes GLE Coupe, and Ford F-150, among others—and outside the Men’s Group, across the Hearst portfolio—Toyota “New Rules of Car Buying” and “Inventionaries,” Chevrolet Malibu Cruze. Leveraging the relationships within Car and Driver and Road & Track has been instrumental in expanding the conversation with automotive partners to include Esquire and Popular Mechanics. Conversely, we have seen growth in Car and Driver and Road & Track’s non-endemic business with partners such as Clarks as a direct result of the deep relationships within Esquire and Popular Mechanics.
HMG is hosting a booth at North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this year. Why is making a big splash at the Auto Show a great strategic move for the group?
The auto industry is at a pivotal moment where next-generation products and technologies rapidly evolve, and Detroit remains at the nexus of it all. Having a presence at NAIAS where all these big ideas make their world debuts puts us in the right place at the right time to put a stake in the ground and proclaim the Men’s Group as the most credible, preeminent partner and creative voice for brands to reach the right audience—enthusiast, lifestyle and beyond. The booth itself will serve as a hub where we will meet with partners to discuss the upcoming year, form new relationships and interact with consumers.
Can you tell us a bit about what will be at the booth?
Essig: The Hearst Men’s Group booth will be on the floor at NAIAS and will be a respite from all of the industry action at the Auto Show. Our activation will bring to life the editorial positioning of each of the Men’s Group brands as well as the creative solutions we have developed on behalf of our partners. Video screens will show reels of our recent successes, staff members will be handing out issues to attendees and we will have a private conference room in which to conduct meetings with clients, partners and press. In addition, we may throw a few happy-hour celebrations.
One of the key parts of Auto Show is the Consumer Days. What are you most excited to share in terms of interaction with the Men’s Group consumers?
Essig: Consumer Marketing will be heading up our efforts during the Consumer Days at the Auto Show. They have giveaways and offers planned to drive subscriptions and keep our brands top of mind with this captive audience.
What are you most looking forward to for the division in 2016?
Essig: We have continued to see advertisers working in a deeper way with fewer partners. The Hearst Men’s Group satisfies that need, with a reach that is both deep—in the auto/tech/style space—and wide—reaching one in five U.S. men. My goal for the Men’s Group is to continue with our successful formula and bring in even more exclusive, market-share deals within the auto space and beyond. We have the editorial products, the right audience and the ideal means for connecting with that audience across all platforms. If you are looking to reach men, you should be working with the Hearst Men’s Group.
Note, this interview was republished with permission from Hearst.