Why Lifestyle Brands Are the New Media Companies

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Success in the media space is a moving target. While prior media conglomerates focused heavily on amassing large audiences and monetizing through advertising, emerging media brands are finding success by creating their own lifestyle brands to generate growth and engagement.

Media Companies That Are Spinning Success

Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is rewriting the playbook for how production companies can rise to the top. Hello Sunshine first started generating popularity with audiences through a modern book club model, reminiscent of Oprah’s book picks in the 90s.

Witherspoon started a book club in 2017 offering a monthly book recommendation to her fans. The book club became its own lifestyle brand that generated interest in the content created by Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine.

Essentially, Witherspoon’s media-lifestyle hybrid looks something like this:

  • A book is chosen for Reese’s Book Club
  • Her production company Hello Sunshine acquires the on-screen rights to books that have veen featured by the book club
  • Hello Sunshine produces and publishes movies and television shows related to these books
  • The engaged community that has already connected with the books are eager to watch Hello Sunshine’s content

…And the cycle repeats. What Witherspoon has created is a unique hybrid of a lifestyle brand and production company, creating a built-in audience for content produced by the company. This strategy has paid off — in 2021 Hello Sunshine sold for $900M to an undisclosed buyer.

Podcast host Alex Cooper is following a similar model to expand her content empire beyond her popular podcast Call Her Daddy.

In 2021, Cooper made headlines after inking a $60 million deal with Spotify, giving the platform exclusive publishing rights to her podcast for three years. This year, Cooper launched her own production company with her fiance called Trending, aimed at engaging a younger audience.

The first offering is a podcast network called Unwell where she’s signed popular Gen Z creators Alix Earle and Madison Argy, helping them launch their own high-profile shows using her podcasting playbook.

In addition to podcasts, trending is also producing movies. The first, called Love at First Sight, premiered on Netflix last month with Cooper’s fans and listeners on deck generating excitement for the film. By creating an ecosystem of media spanning hyper-engaged audiences across various podcasts, movies, and in-person appearances, Cooper is generating interest in every major project she touches.

Both of these examples offer a new blueprint for modern media companies as the industry’s landscape continues to evolve.

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