By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN and STUART ELLIOTT
AS traditional media become increasingly willing to try the nontraditional, magazines are exploring ways to promote themselves and brands sold by their advertisers.
Redbook is teaming up with a company, House Party, to promote itself and advertisers through parties this Saturday.
Redbook is teaming up with a company called House Party to better reach readers and potential readers. On Saturday, House Party will help Redbook put on 1,000 “girls-only” parties in reader homes, with attendance projected at more than 15,000.
Those attending the National Happy Hour parties, as they are being called, will receive gift items, not to mention copies of the magazine and opportunities to subscribe. There will also be samples, coupons and other merchandise from Redbook advertisers, among them the L’Oréal Paris brand sold by L’Oréal, the Seattle’s Best coffee brand sold by Starbucks and pretzels from Snyder’s of Hanover.
Kiwi is involved in something like the House Party events, hosting events on its own rather than
through an outside company. The Kiwi program, known as Moms Meet, gathers about 14,000 so-called mom ambassadors for weekly or monthly meetings that average 20 attendees apiece.
Along with discussing articles — recent topics included “Beating Potty Training Setbacks” and “Staying Safe From Toxins” — attendees receive product samples, which they also discuss.
Maxine Wolf, the publisher of Kiwi, which is owned by the May Media Group, said the magazine does not accept advertising from pharmaceutical companies or from foods that contain artificial colors or flavors. Products must meet those same standards to participate in the sampling program, she added.
Brands that meet the criteria, Ms. Wolf said, are eager to pay to be tried by consumers who may be predisposed to what they offer. “Kiwi moms are entirely engaged and committed to this lifestyle,” she added, “and recommending these types of products to their friends.”
So far, participants in the sampling program have primarily been smaller companies selling brands like Sprout organic baby food or Laloo’s goat milk ice cream. But Kiwi recently struck a deal with its biggest participant: Kraft Foods.
In August, Teddy Grahams, the Nabisco cookie brand sold by Kraft, will bring out its newest variety, Teddy Grahams Soft Paws: large, soft, individually wrapped cookies in claw shapes.
The Kiwi meet-ups are a natural choice for Teddy Grahams, said Dan Anglemyer, a senior brand manager at Kraft, because the entire line is made with whole grain, no artificial flavors or colors, sugar instead of corn syrup and considerably less sugar content over all than other Kraft cookies like Oreo.
“We’re so focused on moms, and this is a mom-designated program,” Mr. Anglemyer said. “And it’s a psychographic that’s concerned about the ingredients in food,” he added, using the term that emphasizes attributes of self-image and values over demographics like age or income.
The new Soft Paws product will be provided to a third of the Moms Meet groups, a total of about 100,000 people. The leaders will complete questionnaires to elicit collective impressions of the product and feedback from individual members.
When executives of Marcal, the brand of recycled paper products, recently sent Small Steps toilet paper to about 4,000 mothers in about 200 groups, they learned that many were impressed with something the brand had not previously trumpeted: it is made in the United States.
Because of that insight, the brand will “be tweaking the packaging going forward” to highlight its domestic origin, said Ilyne Germaise, senior brand manager at Marcal.
As magazines fret about marketers eschewing print ads for online media and social-network marketing, Moms Meet represents an alternative approach to the revenue puzzle.
While she declined to provide figures, Ms. Wolf said that Kiwi was on pace to double its revenue this year compared with last, attributing the growth to the success of the sampling program.
That revenue is “rapidly approaching” the amount earned through advertising and subscriptions, she added.
At Redbook, part of the Hearst Magazines division of the Hearst Corporation, the advertisers’ participation in the House Party gathering comes with buying what it describes as a “total package partnership” with Redbook.
Redbook is the first magazine to hire House Party to put on parties; other clients include ABC Family, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Ford Motor, S. C. Johnson, Kraft, McDonald’s and Microsoft.
“We’ve worked with House Party before on behalf of advertisers,” said Mary Morgan, vice president and publisher of Redbook. “We thought, what if we went to House Party and became the client?”
“The most effective way to sample any product is to actually have a consumer experience it,” Ms. Morgan said. “This is like Redbook parachuting into a party and saying, ‘Here we are.’ ”
Michael Perry, chief executive at House Party, estimated that more than 33,000 people in the company’s database of 800,000 hosts applied to host a Redbook party — “about two times the normal average of 15,000 to 20,000 for big clients,” he said.
There is a matter unique to a party for a publication, Mr. Perry said, laughing: The party packs that the company is shipping to hosts, containing the materials they need for the Redbook events, weigh 35 pounds each, compared with an average of 10 pounds for party givers that are not magazines.
Redbook is promoting the National Happy Hour parties on several pages of its July issue. The magazine plans to revive the parties virtually on Tuesday, inviting readers to follow @redbookmag on Twitter.com and asking those who post comments to use the hashtag #RED BOOKhh.