On Mag Covers, Time Inc., Breasts and What's Not Being Said!
Someone please tell me what all the discussion and brouhaha is about a very well-designed cover of a magazine?
It seems to me that the conversation is all about the wrong thing. Is it about the picture of a woman's breast? Is it that she is feeding her child in an open, unpretentious, and unembarrassed way? Is it that by some standards the child is just too damn old to be still breast feeding? My goodness! Of the 10,000 magazine covers out there this year many display much more cleavage, much more breast-feeding, and many more out of the norm mother and child relationships. Of all the things in this world to get into a tizzy over this should be pretty damn low on the seismic scale of published things to publishers, with the exception of the brilliance of the beautiful and totally arresting art direction. Isn't that what a cover should do? That is what we should all be talking about with complete and total professional jealousy. You should be asking, "Why can't my art director make a cover like that?" That is the real question.
Where is the regular production of great, provocative covers like those of George Lois, presented with regularity on the covers of Esquire? Maybe we have forgotten how to make great covers, so when someone actually does make a great one we get bent out of shape. Dammit wake up and smell the solvent. It was a great cover on a printed magazine doing exactly what it was supposed to do in a crowded field . . . stand out! Perhaps I've dealt with one cover breast too many to get bent out of shape by this superior media play.
In 1975 I was involved with High Times and we produced the now famous Chocolate Breast cover. No big deal and it sold about 85% of all the issues we put on the newsstand. In fact, in those days we sold about 85% of every issue we put on the newsstand. Why well not? We had a great niche title and one terrific provocative cover after another.
Dear friends, if you want to stop the slide on the newsstand, dare to be great, dare to be provocative, be what you are or should be -- a dynamic print product that is worth picking up and reading. If you aren't a cocky rooster on the newsstand, then chances are you won't be on the newsstand very long. To get your magazine to be read it must be picked up in the typical 10 second consumer scan. That is rule number one for any publisher whether you are in the business for 5 minutes or 40 years. Greatness does not come from being either shy or lazy; it comes from wanting to conquer the part of the world you find yourself in.
Take the battle to the enemy, and on the newsstand your enemies are many. You are competing against every other printed title out there and the millions of web pages that are seducing your former readers with titillating distractions. Survival and success is your choice, the timid wither away while the publishing great's with a compelling cover in one hand and great idea in the other, will conquer the world.