How partnering with the big players like National Geographic and Discovery is helping the Lad Bible to stay relevant

Before the Flood

Contrary to industry rumours that all is not well at the Lad Bible, the publisher has a string of partnerships and initiatives that prove the appetite is still strong for a new breed of lad.

The publisher has been trying to redefine what ‘lad’ means in recent years to prevent itself from meeting the same fate as the now largely defunct lad mags of the 90s. A huge part of this overhaul has been the company's investment in more serious, Vice-like hard-hitting content.

In fact, Vice is often the “first port of call” the publisher looks to benchmark off, with Lad Bible’s head of sales Jonathan Kitchen saying the publisher's decision to invest in 16 year olds was inspired by Shane Smith’s similar moves.

Now, the publisher has partnered with the big entertainment powerhouses in an attempt to prove to its many critics it is a serious contender in the fight for millennials at scale.

That fight arguably was at risk in the wake of marketing director Mimi Turner leaving, preceded by the departure of its commercial director James Wigley, and rumours of departures on the video side of business. But its high-profile partnerships in recent weeks show the business is very much growing.

Today (27 October), the Lad Bible Group revealed a partnership with National Geographic UK to market the broadcaster's latest documentary Before the Flood, which is fronted by actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio. The documentary is set to broadcast simultaneously on National Geographic’s channel and on Facebook Live.

The Lad Bible, which reaches more than 40 million young people across its channels, has been charged with driving awareness towards the new documentary via a series of themed editorial posts on the issues outlined in the film. The editorial campaign will be accompanied by homepage placement and digital advertising across the company’s portfolio.

The partnership follows on from the publisher’s digital rights deal with Discovery to create clips from shows including Bear Grylls: Born Survivor, Stunt Junkies and Shark Attack Survival Guide.

The Lad Bible is also poised to announce a partnership with Amazon Studios around the much anticipated launch of new sporting show The Grand Tour, featuring ex-Top Gear cast Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. The partnership was teased by Kitchen at an AOP event last week, where he hinted that the publisher will create mini documentaries 30 minutes in length to accompany the show. If true, the partnership would be the publisher’s most high-profile yet.

The partnerships are emblematic of a brand that is learning to mature with its audience, as well as the big players seeing growth in social platforms, as evidenced by the growing popularity of Facebook Live among broadcasters.

Such partnerships are more cost-efficient and effective at driving business results than “standard advertising alone”, says Dan Wood head of media partnerships at Mediacom.

“The appetite for partnerships over the course of the last 12 months has completely changed. Whereas competitors teaming up used to be an absolute no, we have got multiple examples of multi-partner sponsorships. I would start to question how effective single channel partnerships can be, because our audiences don't just consume a single media brand. No one has the scale and reach to cover every one of our consumers,” Wood said.

The Drum reached out to Amazon Studios and the Lad Bible on the teased partnership, neither of which were able to confirm by time of publishing.

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