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News

A Look at NatGeo’s Multiyear Deep-Dive Into Food

Theme issues aren't anything new for publishers, but National Geographic is building out an entire product line and set of partnerships off of a magazine series on the future of food.

The series, which saw its first piece run in the May issue, is being packaged as a microsite and iPad app along with original Web video and TV content, and interactive features. And it's going experiential with exhibitions and other face-to-face events across the country.

"It wasn't all determined when we launched in April, but as the relationships built, and as needs in the market arose, we felt this was a great way to package the content and deliver it in a way that would get support on the business side as well," says Claudia Malley, EVP and worldwide publisher for NatGeo. "From the business side, it's been really interesting to see the momentum build."

The issue-centric approach isn't new to NatGeo—they did it in 2010 with freshwater scarcity, and again in 2011 and into 2012 as the world population topped 7 billion. Each time, they've spread the coverage out over a longer period of time. NatGeo is now characterizing its food series as a "multiyear initiative."

That slow burn has had a positive impact on advertising. Originally unsponsored, the initiative now has four corporate partners and four foundation partners.

"The commitment is really important. Consumers see that—people are coming back, people are following the bloggers, people are really engaging—but it wasn't like that from Day 1. They saw it wasn't a stunt," she says. "On the business side, they're realizing how it works for them. And we're learning as we go along and bringing partners with us."

Issue-centric products like the food app and microsite will continue to be added to NatGeo's portfolio in the future. Beginning in 2016, Malley says their next big look will be at the evolving relationship between civilization and nature.