‘An ultra-premium opportunity’: CNN expands its fashion coverage

CNN is expanding its fashion coverage under the CNN Style vertical. The brand plans to extend its digital vertical and also premiere new video, including a TV and online show hosted by journalist Derek Blasberg that will premiere this weekend.

It plans to cover the worlds of art, luxury, fashion, architecture and cars in the half-hour show and with multimedia content across CNN International. The company says CNN Style online gets 5.5 million uniques a month — according to comScore, which only has the recent month of data, it had 2.5 million uniques in the U.S. in February.

“Fashion and style is the ultra-premium opportunity,” said Ed O’Keefe, vp of CNNMoney and politics. Because fashion and style is personal, it takes users beyond the daily experience of news. The network said it has landed new advertisers for Style in the last few months that include Tag Heuer, Breguet and Cartier.

CNN decided to put more muscle behind style after producers noticed how its audience was engaging, according to O’Keefe: People were coming to CNN for break stories and sticking around for what executive editor George Webster called “counter-programming,” stories of culture and curiosities.

“We felt we were under-serving our audience, so there was an opportunity to give them something that was what they wanted.” The brand wants to focus on covering things people might not expect: It will cover the Givenchy fashion show but also take a look at Art Basel Hong Kong by sending a dancer through the streets of Hong Kong to explore the fair.

The Turner Broadcasting-owned network recently poured $20 million into a large-scale digital expansion, hiring over 200 staffers as part of a growth plan that includes online video, mobile and international expansion. Those three are major priorities for the publisher, and, according to O’Keefe, CNN Style hits on all three. The site has six edit staffers and plans to invest more in video this year. For example, cuts from the Blasberg TV show will be used on social media and digital. It also plans to open CNN Style Arabic, a nod to the huge luxury market in the Middle East region.

CNN hasn’t covered style in a full-fledged way for years (Elsa Klensch used to host and produce a TV show for the network from 1980 to 2001). But Webster said there is a bit of a resurgence in editorial interest from mainstream publishers in fashion. Both Quartz and Mic, for example, have been covering a lot more fashion stories. A Quartz spokeswoman said it has slowly grown its team in the area and said the publisher is interested in the business of fashion and how it plays into other global economic indicators.

Webster said Instagram and social media have made people more familiar with and interested in the work of influential creatives and in major events like New York Fashion Week. (Indeed, even high fashion isn’t immune from this: There has been a move to democratization in this industry as well.)

“The differentiator for us is that CNN is truly global, and we have an advantage in that space,” said O’Keefe. “There are times beyond breaking news we need to be relevant. Doing it in these premium verticals is the way.”

Homepage image via CNN Style


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