Covers Sell

Covers Sell

Abe is a Babe

Posted by Scott On October - 26 - 2011

National Geographic has just launched a new brand extension…Exploring History.  The Premier Issue (flagged with a cover slash) features an illustration of a young Lincoln.  The artist, Tim O’Brien, used a photograph taken following Lincoln’s nomination in 1860…Abe was 51 at the time…as a starting point for imagining what he might have looked like as a young man.   On the Editor’s page Anne Alexander writes:

“For our Lincoln cover image, illustrator Tim O’Brien used oil paints to peel back layers of age, creating a protrait of the future president as he might have appeared in his mid-30’s, long before the war years and the Presidency had furrowed his brow.”

Exploring History chose to eschew the safe route of using a real historic image of Lincoln.  They chose not to go with an iconic image of Lincoln the statesman, Lincoln the martyr, the bearded Lincoln, or Lincoln the saviour or saint. Instead they created a bit of their own history, and altered our stereotypical view by filtering Lincoln through a new lense. This speaks to the magazine’s ambition and creativity.

Editor Anne Alexander confessed to me that she too loves magazine covers, and that when she saw the original archival photograph she was blown away by how handsome he was.  “After all, Lincoln was 6 feet four inches tall, when the average man of his day was considerably shorter,” said Alexander.  “His eyes were just so penetrating.  But because of rights limitations held by the image’s owner, the idea evolved into hiring Tim O’Brien, one of the best illustrators in the business.”

When asked if the magazine was aimed at an older audience Alexander said, “We believe the graphics appeal to a wide audience, and based on the feedback we are getting from students, young people, and folks of all ages, we think we have a magazine that has broad appeal.  My hope is that Exploring History will be the Vanity Fair of history magazines, really going in depth about leaders of their time, be they Lincoln or Moctezuma.”  

The cover was also created specifically for the Canadian market, as the $7.99 cover price is quoted in Canadian funds only.  That’s smart. 

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Scott Bullock’s Newsstand Cover Quiz Show is legendary in the industry. Using covers as the catalyst, this interactive and entertaining format is a light-hearted but hard-hitting spin on Packaging 101. Testing the cover savvy of magazine professionals across disciplines, the Quiz Show pits publishers against editors, circulators against art directors, retailers against wholesalers -- ultimately leading to new common ground in the quest for better covers. Scott is the Owner of Circ3, Smart Circulation Solutions, a circulation consultancy. www.circ3.com

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