This morning there was news of retailers becoming media companies; this afternoon brings the news that magazines are producing television shows. Both developments are innovative new ways of taking technology and using it to…well, sell products. Glamour‘s new reality series, ‘Glamour Girls,’ was created exclusively for the iPad, and it comes free with purchase of the magazine’s monthly app. The show chronicles the careers of four women working for or with Glamour — and in the process, heavily markets clothes from Gap.
The show seamlessly integrates Gap clothing into the story lines: episodes are ten to twelve minutes long, and the audience is able to tap a “Shop the Looks” feature at any point while watching. The feature leads them to the Gap outfits worn by the ‘Glamour Girls’ characters, and then the audience can click through to buy the outfit from Gap’s web site. And of course, Gap is offering various promotions exclusively throughout the show.
While February’s issue was downloaded around 4600 times (for comparison’s sake, the print version has a circulation of 2.3 million), Condé Nast senior VP William J. Wackermann believes the app, and its reality series, are just the start of a new form of marketing. What we’re interested to see is how flexible this can become — while it’s blatant product placement, here it’s with a single sponsor. Where does that stop (or begin)? How many brands could be placed in a magazine-created reality show without creating a conflict of interest? And will this blend of entertainment and advertising have any repercussions for the retailers/content-creators involved? We’ll be watching to see.