Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife Caroline Clark Myers, were nearing retirement after accomplished careers in the education field when they created the children’s magazine, Highlights. The couple printed 20,000 copies of the first issue in 1946 but not all of them sold. By 1971, the paid circulation of Highlights was one million. The current circulation, according to the company, is two million. Even with that sustained level of success, Highlights knows this is an ever-changing marketplace. As a result the company has ventured into licensing, not only as an additional revenue stream, but to strengthen its brand for future generations.
Nancy Lombardi: How does Highlights remain true to its message while modernizing its brand?
Robin Sayetta: Highlights for Children began with a vision—the vision of what a magazine for children should be. The founders, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife Caroline Clark Myers, had a lifetime of experience teaching children and adults to read and write. The motto on the cover of issue No. 1 published in 1946 —“Fun with a Purpose”—still maintains its place on the cover today, as well as in the philosophy of the editorial process. The current circulation of more than two million makes Highlights the largest paid subscription-based circulation of any general interest magazine for kids.
We find that parents, and even grandparents, have fond memories of Highlights. Once they introduce Highlights into their children’s lives, children respond to the timeless games, puzzles, activities, and jokes that have made Highlights part of growing up in America.
We remain not only relevant to today’s kids but we are on the cutting edge of what today’s kids are involved in through the licensing program. Our Highlights Hidden Pictures iPhone app has been ranked in the top-20 paid kids’ apps on the iTunes store since its launch last fall. This is just one way we merge classic Highlights with modern habits.
N.L.: How is the Highlights licensing program developing?
R.S.: We started our licensing division in early 2009 with the goal of creating products that bring the Highlights experience to life in new ways. We have since launched two iPhone apps. There are activity toys from Horizon Group USA, puzzles from Ravensburger, and stationery from CSS Industries, all of which launched this past spring.
In addition, there will be board games from Discovery Bay Games and calendars from Trends International. We are in the process of signing partners for video games and additional toy categories. We will also announce a meal promotion partner shortly. The next categories we plan to assess include apparel and accessories and then venture into other staple children’s products.
Highlights about Highlights:
• Highlights was started by a husband-and-wife team of educators. Still a family-run business, Kent S. Johnson, Ph.D., great-grandson of the founders and grandson of their daughter, Elizabeth Myers Brown, currently serves as the corporation’s CEO.
• Founder Caroline Clark Myers was the first female teacher to be employed by the U.S. army. She and her husband taught illiterate soldiers to read during World War I.
• In June 2006, the 60th anniversary of the company, the one-billionth copy of Highlights magazine rolled off the presses.
• Highlights magazine (ages 6–12) and Highlights High Five magazine (ages 2–6) are each available for a one-year subscription for $29.64. There are also six book club options for a variety of ages. Who says today’s kids no longer read?
• The company employs nearly 700 people with locations in Columbus, Ohio; Honesdale, Penn.; and New England.