Meredith’s Marketing Push Goes Global With Stake In Iris

Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP), the publisher of women’s magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle and local TV operator, has made an unspecified investment in London-based creative agency Iris as part of a continuing plan to expand its integrated marketing services. The deal, which values the UK agency at more than £40 million ($63.7 million USD) according to The Guardian, is important for Meredith, as it looks to establish its marketing and digital services on a global basis outside its U.S. base.

Although publishers have always offered some sort of marketing services alongside their traditional print ad sales, Meredith was one of the early ones to build out a dedicated unit that was independent of its titles. It had realized early on that magazine ad sales for the industry had peaked and publishers could no longer just rely on advertising, whether print or digital, to provide the necessary growth.

In conjunction with the Iris investment, the publisher is also rechristening its integrated marketing unit as Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. The brand is being billed as a “data-driven” strategist for cross-platform marketing. Martin Reidy, who joined Meredith two years ago from Publicis Modem as the president and CEO of Meredith Integrated Marketing, will remain as president of the rebranded MXM.

Meredith has been an active investor in companies that can help enlarge its marketing identity. Iris can certainly assist in that goal, as well as in extending the publisher’s reach through Iris’ presence in Europe, Asia and Australia and Mexico. Iris, which created the London 2012 Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, also has a offices in the U.S.

Meredith tends to take a stake in a company before acquiring them outright, but the company hasn’t telegraphed any such plans for Iris, at least not at this point.

Last year, Meredith bought the remaining stake in the Real Girls Media Network, a collection of blogs. Before that, it took a minority stake in mobile marketing agency The Hyperfactory before buying it outright in July 2010. Release