Are Media CEO Brendon Hill on fresh starts, branding and leaving Bauer Media behind

Yesterday the long-awaited rebrand was announced for Bauer Media now that the magazine publisher is owned by private equity firm Mercury Capital. Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston spoke with CEO Brendon Hill about the new Are Media name, his plans for the newly-united media business and fresh starts.

Brendon Hill sounds noticeably more chipper when I speak to him on Monday afternoon than other times we have spoken. It’s probably because, after what’s been a complex couple of months for Bauer Media, the magazine publisher finally has good news to deliver to market.

Earlier that day, we received the announcement everyone had been waiting for – the new branding identity for the media business Mercury Capital acquired in July. The answer? Are Media. Based around the company’s core principals – audience, reach and engagement.

Hill is confident in the future of Are Media

Hill tells me the process of reaching the new name was a collaborative one, involving a number of employees across the entire Are Media business, including New Zealand which was reopened after Bauer made the decision to close it earlier this year. 300 names were listed, reduced to a shortlist, then a final two names which a group of 35 senior leaders from across the business voted on.

But beyond the three letters that now occupy the space in front of ‘Media’, the rebrand is about a chance at a fresh start, says Hill. The media company which has been through so much in just the last nine months – the intended purchase of Pacific Magazines which it may or may not have then tried to get out of, a number of redundancies which played out very publicly across the industry and the closure of a number of titles, some of which have a long history in Australia and the world – wants the market to know it’s turning its fate around.

“I think it’s a fresh start for us. And I think the name really does encapsulate who we are really well, which is important for us. We can use it in trade very easily – we are women, we are motoring, we are lifestyle, we are homes, we are food, etc. Then it stands for what we do really well too, which is audience, reach, engagement. We’re a real attention-grabbing medium and it sums up that quite well. Then I love the logo, the physically leaning in of the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ which is all about that consumer experience that magazines does so well,” Hill told Mumbrella.

“It’s a really great brand that encapsulates who we are and what we’re going to be in the future.”

As for what will be different between the existing Bauer Media business and the new Are Media, Hill again says this is a chance for a fresh start. There will be a ‘focus on investment and growth’ and the business will be giving plenty of air time to its ‘innovative products’ including Beautyheaven and Bounty Parenting. The business is going to be looking towards more ecommerce opportunities too – Better Homes and Gardens has its own online shop and Hill says these fronts play an important role in the diversification of the Are Media business.

Are Media’s titles

The investment part of the plan will see funding in the products that make Are Media what it is.

“Again, it’s really important for us to always look at our storytelling ability and making it the highest quality we possibly can. It’s great to have at our disposal, such a large research, and insights team and we’re continually talking to consumers to evolve our brands. And we’ve got an investment strategy in our brands, too,” says Hill.

“We’re going to do a lot more above the line. We’re really going to put money behind our brands and to help them become more visual in the market. And also we’re going to invest in the whole category now. So we’re going to invest in magazines, really push the magazine messaging in market now that we’re the market leader.”

Hill says the business feels reinvigorated, is united and is ready to take on the next challenges it is faced with. This is lucky, because Are Media is launching its new brand into what is still a very challenged ad market without much certainty on the horizon. Growth is still a focus though, says Hill. Are Media has recently started a trial with Australia Post which will see its titles sold in post offices. One of the magazines has recently been stocked in Aldi. Are Media’s magshop has been rebuilt to make it easier for consumers to shop online and the business is planning to capitalise on all these changes with a big push across trade.

“In trade, we’ve got to do better, we’ve got to make Are easier to buy from. Our big go to market we’re planning for early November, a virtual event these days of course, but that’s open for registrations and we’re looking forward to talking more about our plans then.”

Have more information on the article? Want to share an opinion? Just want to reach out? Email Hannah on hannah@mumbrella.com.au or get in touch via LinkedIn.


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