Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Going into the news conference last week at which Holland America Line announced a new partnership, I had a pretty good idea that it would involve a tie-in with a well-known magazine or cable property.

After all, the reveal was being staged at the Manhattan headquarters of Hearst Communications, the publisher of titles such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Harper's Bazaar, among others.

But which title would fit best with Holland America? Hearst doesn't have a magazine dedicated to travel. Perhaps the Food Network Magazine, to play on HAL's culinary strengths? No, HAL's last announcement was a partnership with America's Test Kitchen. How about Town & Country? That would be a good overlap with HAL's older, wealthier demographic.

In fact, when we entered the theater at Hearst's handsome Norman Foster-designed tower, it became apparent that the tie in was with "O, The Oprah Magazine." As the saying goes, I did not see that coming.

Some partnerships reinforce a brand, and others expand it. To me, the O Magazine link up is clearly one of the latter.

I asked Jayne Jamison, senior vice president, publisher and chief revenue officer of the magazine, about its demographics. She said the reader's median age is 50, the average income is just under $70,000 a year and 50% of the audience is non-white.

And as for gender, editor-at-large Gayle King described the male readership as consisting of "a few brave men."

Although the HAL demographic has been getting steadily younger, I imagine the average is still over 50. The group is also wealthier, whiter and more male than O Magazine's typical subscriber.

Although HAL has advertised with O for years, the partnership with O is as much about reaching for new guests as it is about providing something that current guests are going to get excited about.

That said, everyone loves Oprah, who has plans to sail on an Alaska cruise departing July 15. And there is one theme that resonates with HAL's psychographic of educated, discovery-oriented guests.

As editor in chief Lucy Kaylin put it, O is dedicated to personal growth: "How can I put more joy in my life, how can I forge richer connections?"  That's something that HAL also targets in its marketing, and having Oprah aboard should make it an easier sell.

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