Hearst’s Country Living expands from pages to sheets

Seven years ago, I pointed to a now-dead press release announcing the launch of a now dead line of “randy” hair-coloring products that was being marketed under the Maxim brand.

I wonder what made me remember that long-ago magazine brand-extention effort? Oh, yes, now I remember: Today, Hearst announced the “Country Living Collection” of “home fashions that includes bedding and bath, tabletop, furniture and home decor” that will debut this summer in Sears and Kmart stores.

It sounds a little like The Martha Stewart Collection exclusively at Macys, and the Martha Stewart everyday collection, exclusively at Kmart. (Not to be confused with other Martha Stewart home furnishing lines found exclusively at other places.) Those, however, are more an extension of Martha Stewart, the brand, than Martha Stewart the magazine.

Despite a long history of magazines licensing their brands in a myriad of ways, the current “narrative” that “print is dead” will, no doubt, lead some reporters and pundits to suggest the move by Hearst is a response to the extinction of the magazine format. Note to pundits: Think about how little sense it would make to brand a line of products with a name of something that is dying.

My only question about the “collection” of Country Living-branded products: Will other brands of home furnishing products that advertise in Country Living magazine believe they are now helping to support a new competitor’s brand?

Sidenote: I once attended a meeting at the offices of Country Living magazine which are located, with surreal irony, in mid-town Manhattan, the least “country” spot in America.