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IPC Media & Coke partner on new Style it Light fashion brand

Style it LightIPC Media has announced a major content partnership with Diet Coke called Style it Light. We spoke to IPC's Digital Brand Partnerships Director Andrew Sanders: What’s the background to the Style it Light partnership? We were aware that Coke is involved in the fashion space and had partnered with Yahoo in the past. Vizeum invited us to pitch for a 2012 content partnership and we won, with a view to a longer relationship extending beyond this year. How does it work on the ground? The site brings together unique content by our core fashion teams – Look, Marie Claire and In Style. Since it’s spread across the three titles, we’re not talking about a massive job for one team. A content manager who used to be on the Look editorial team handles the editing and subbing and taking most of the pain out of the process. She works alongside a full-time project manager. We treat Style it Light exactly as we would an additional brand in our portfolio, so the metrics for success are the same as they would be for one of our own products – traffic and engagement. Like any of our other brands, it has its own clear editorial identity & brand guidelines. Is this partnership the first of its kind, or just biggest of a growing series? It’s the biggest of a series – though a number of the previous partnerships have been around NME, with Blackberry for instance, and this one is particularly important in that it could be long-term, stretching into 2013. Content partnerships are definitely an area of the business we’re looking to resource and develop further – we share target audiences with these brands, and these partnerships are a part of our evolving relationship with our audience, as well as our clients, and the diversification of the business. Is there a generational gap in how this kind of deal is viewed internally? The majority of people get it. I’d hope it’s viewed simply as a new venture, with a distinctive editorial voice - not just purely a commercial or advertorial exercise. The fact that this is creating jobs and expanding the reach of our fashion content are definitely seen as good things, and I think everyone understands that people are keen to work with us in this way because of our credible engagement with people in areas like fashion. Lots more brands are publishing their own content – are you surprised more traditional publishers aren’t being employed to produce it? Yes – though the lines between client and media owner are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s strange more clients haven’t approached publishers in this area. Advertisers recognise that we have the editorial expertise to engage with people and are keen to capitalise on that. As they come to appreciate the depth of conversation we’re having with people, we’ll see more advertisers come on board for these types of partnerships. What advice would you give to other publishers that are branching out into this area? Be open minded about working flexibly with advertisers, while only offering editorial which is up to the highest standards of your existing brands. In other words, adapt to new ways of working without losing sight of what made your brands great in the minds of consumers and advertisers the first place.

For more on publisher/brand content partnerships, see our related event from 2011

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