AOL began publishing its content partnership with fashion model Heidi Klum today, AOL’s latest celebrity acquisition and a key part of CEO Tim Armstrong’s strategy to attract more female readers. As a sign of Mr. Armstrong’s eager interest in celebrity-branded content, Ms. Klum is expected to reap an upfront salary close to seven figures and will also take a 50% stake in ad revenue generated from the venture, according to people familiar with the matter.
AOL would not comment on financial terms.
Ms. Klum, along with Full Picture Entertainment, will program video content focusing on advice covering a range of areas, from fashion and beauty to parenting, relationships and lifestyle. Ms. Klum has enlisted a stable of what she calls her experts to answer questions from readers as well as develop new how-to videos on an ongoing basis.
Ad Age recently spoke to Ms. Klum about the partnership.
Ad Age: What led you to this deal?
Heidi Klum: I’ve been doing my job for over 18 years now, and most of the time people want to know how: How you do this, and how do you do that, and how do you juggle a family life, and what are the fashion trends, with what comb do you brush your hair with … all kinds of questions from relationships to beauty and lifestyle.
Ad Age: So … lots of questions.
Ms. Klum: Questions beyond questions. And it’s not really that I have all the answers but I kind of gathered a team around, what I call my experts, and they’ve helped me. And what I thought would be a good thing to do is team up with a company like AOL, because AOL is my audience. Now I have a bigger platform to share my experts with.
Ad Age: Can you talk about some of the experts you’ll be bringing into this new area of AOL?
Ms. Klum: Definitely. For example, my art teacher. Actually, she’s my children’s art teacher for the past five years, and we do all kinds of things together. Seasonal things. Like, for Halloween, we’ll dress pumpkins together. We made these videos so women can look what can you do with your family. I think these kinds of things are important for women.
Ad Age: I can understand how women would be interested in seeking your advice on fashion or beauty, but why should they come to you for advice on parenting or crafts, or anything else?
Ms. Klum: Maybe they don’t. I don’t know. I feel like I know a lot of great people, and they are experts in what they do, and that’s why I have all these people to help me. It is my world — I call it my world — it is really for women who have all different things they’re interested in doing. And I think it is up to them, whatever they want. What they want to get from the site. Some people don’t want to get makeup — they couldn’t care less — and maybe they’d rather know how they can improve their home and how to make their home more beautiful.
Ad Age: Where do you go online when you’re looking for advice on fashion or parenting?
Ms. Klum: When I was pregnant, I would go to different baby blog sites just to see where I’m at when I was four weeks in my belly — what I should look out for. What I should and shouldn’t eat. I always found that interesting. And in terms of fashion, if there were shows I couldn’t attend myself, I would to Style.com. The great thing about me for fashion, I still do a lot of shoots, and we’re going to do something everyday on the site where we put up a new photo of me with a new look, and we’d do something on how you can get the same look for less.
Ad Age: You’ve been a one-woman brand for a while, and while other top models have gone on to be more product-oriented, you’ve staked your claim on the media side of businesses. What led you to that?
Ms. Klum: I don’t know. I’ve done interviews since I started more obvious things like Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated, or if I hosted different shows like [on] MTV or "Project Runway." The more I’ve become public, the more questions I would get. What is the best shampoo? What is the best comb? Why not have a place where people can speak to the horse’s mouth? They can speak to my experts.
Ad Age: All right, so what is the best comb to use?
Ms. Klum: Mason Pearson. I love it. It is an expensive brush, but I if you take care of it, it will last forever.