While Jacqueline Blum, Source Interlink’s senior vice-president, business development, has been with the company for less than a year, she has a wealth of experience with its brands. In 2007, Source Interlink acquired the enthusiast media brands from Primedia Enterprises, where Blum served nearly seven years as president.
Chris Adams: When you joined Source Interlink almost a year ago, what were your initial objectives in regard to managing and building Source Interlink’s brands?
Jacqueline Blum: Joining Source Interlink was a return home for me. Source purchased the former Primedia consumer titles that I had worked with for seven years prior to my resignation in 2007. Source management called me and asked me to come back and rebuild the businesses I formerly oversaw. So my initial objectives were simple: refocus the group, rebuild the morale of the team, and create a working strategy that was achievable and appropriate for the brands. In the 10 months since my return, we have done that and are seeing results. Our portfolio of great partners is growing, we are seeing new and innovative product hitting retail shelves and selling through, and we are expanding into new revenue-generating businesses with our brands.
C.A.: Source Interlink is well known for its enthusiast magazines, especially in the automotive sector. In translating these titles into the consumer products realm, auto accessories are a given. How do you decide what areas beyond automotive to take these brands through licensing?
J.B.: We look at the lifestyle of the enthusiast and not just his or her garage or vehicle. What do they buy and where do they shop? How do they express their interests or passions for the sport/car/event/team they follow so enthusiastically? We use that information to help us strategize our programs and, therefore, we can work with licensees and retailers to build seamless programs that our consumers will buy at retail. It has worked well for us and we continue to build on those principles.
C.A.: With Hot Rod magazine branching so far beyond the printed page and even onto TV, how do you ensure that the brand stays focused through its various offshoots, including licensing? What additional opportunities do these offshoots offer you from a licensing perspective?
J.B.: Early on in my tenure with the company (in the Primedia days) we knew that eventually as the businesses I was working on were successful, the magazine would become one of the extensions of what had been built—the brand. So in expanding beyond the printed pages of a 60+ year-old magazine we had to determine what made it special, why it appealed to our consumers, and what made it Hot Rod versus any other muscle car magazine. We took those elements and used them as the foundation of expanding into TV, now radio, consumer products, online, promotions, events, and, soon, mobile. All the extensions of our brands, be it Hot Rod, Motor Trend, or even Lowrider help to build on consumer awareness and their connection to our brands. Each area that we extend our brands into is a touch point for our enthusiasts and another opportunity for new and interested consumers to engage with us. It’s like building a house; our brand is the foundation and each brand extension is a room that has a specific use and is needed to complete the ultimate home.
C.A.: When working with Zumobi on designing the Automobile Magazine app, what criteria did you insist upon in regard to features and content? Are there any plans for apps for your other titles?
J.B.: Working with Zumobi was a very collaborative effort. Our editorial and creative teams worked with Zumobi to bring to life an app that would appeal to our readers and new customers in mobile format. We try to stay true to the sensibilities of the magazine and deliver an app that will engage the consumer wherever and whenever they want. Automobile is actually the second brand we have launched in the mobile space. Motor Trend was the first. It was, and still is, a huge success for us as well. We are continuing to develop this area, both with partners and also in-house with our own digital team. Mobile is an important area of growth for us as a media company and we see a significant opportunity for many of our brands. New launches with other brands are on the horizon this year.