Highlights for Children was a 43-year-old magazine with a strong brand before marketing any other offerings to its core customers: parents of young children.
In 1946, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife Caroline Clark Myers founded Highlights for Children Inc. The privately-held company flourished with a single product—Highlights for Children® magazine—throughout four full decades before deciding it was time to grow its brand and its business.
Today, Highlights for Children Inc. houses under its corporate umbrella several kids’ book club programs, a toy and game catalog, and an interactive Web site.
“We are now much more than a single magazine for children. We have continuities, a catalog business, both an e-commerce Web site and a Web site for kids, and many ancillary products building on our brand,” says Bill Hummel, senior vice president of marketing for Highlights, who has been with the company for the past 17 years. Each of these additions to the long-standing Highlights brand has been carefully planned and executed by the staff, which still is closely connected to the Myers family. When company CEO Garry C. Myers III passed away suddenly in January 2005, a fourth generation of the Myers family, Kent S. Johnson, took the helm.
Hummel, who worked as a circulation director at Meredith Corp. before joining Highlights, adds, “Given the competition for children’s and parents’ time, our greatest challenge is making parents aware that a company they trust—Highlights—has so much to offer.”
It Started With a Mission and a Database
The drive to expand Highlights really all started with the company’s corporate mission, which according to new CEO Johnson, always has been to provide kids with fun, educational materials that parents can feel good about giving to their children. The magazine had established a loyal base of subscribers, and the company had the inkling that these subscribers would be interested in other products for kids. The question was what?