Covers Sell

Covers Sell

Editors presumably have their pulse on what is controversial, right?

As all good circulation experts know, controversial covers can generate free media exposure in newspapers, on radio talk, on TV, and on the Internet with viral chat, which can drive single copy sales to record heights.
So let’s break down the ASME nominations in the Most Controversial category.  Just how controversial are these covers?

Reality Check on GQ Cover:

According to ABC statistics, the nominated cover sold 144,000 copies.  GQ’s average for the Jul/Dec 2009 period was 193,440 copies  Therefore this cover sold 26% worse than the average issue.  This cover was the worst-seller of all 12 issues published in 2009. In fact, all 12 issues in 2008 sold more.  All 12 issues in 2007 sold more.  All 12 issues in 2006, 2005, and 2004 sold more.  This cover is the worst-seller in over 6 years and 72 covers produced by GQ.  Newsflash:  Cover so controversial no one cares.

Reality Check on The New York Cover:

According to ABC statistics, the nominated cover sold 17,175 copies.  Their average for the Jul/Dec 2009 period was 17,388. This cover sold below average, so how much excitement did it really generate?  Please.

Reality Check on the New Yorker Cover:

According to ABC statistics, the nominated cover sold 37,000 copies.  Their average for the Jul/Dec 2009 period was 37,136.  This cover sold below average, so how much excitement did it really generate?  Please.

Reality Check on the Vanity Fair Cover:

According to ABC statistics, the nominated cover sold 317,000 copies.  Their average for the Jan/Jun 2010 period was 344,084.  This cover sold  8% below average, so how much excitement did it really generate?  The January 2010 cover, Meryl’s Magic, sold 447,000 copies, 41% better than the “controversial” Tiger cover in February 2010.  It doesn’t even come close to the sales Vanity Fair achieved with its truly controversial Demi Moore pregnant and nude cover in August of 1991, that sold 546,766 copies.  Now that was a controversial cover of epic proportions.

Reality Check on the Los Angeles Cover:

Labelling a popular Hollywood icon a “failure” is controversial, and risky in a town like LA.  A-list celebrities don’t appreciate being slagged.  It’s very negative, perhaps nasty, perhaps partisan.   Political covers rarely work for city magazines either, anywhere in North America.   Yet this cover, according to ABC statistics, sold 16% more copies than the average in period.  I think we have a winner.

(Note:  the Advocate is not ABC audited).

We will break down the other categories in future posts on CoversSell.com.  And report back with the results.

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About Me

Scott Bullock is a veteran circulation expert with over 38 years experience in both Canada and the United States. He has worked on trade titles such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal and Small Press in the USA. In consumer magazines, Scott was the Circulation Director for D Magazine (the city magazine of Dallas, Texas), and in Canada he was the Circulation Director for Toronto Life, Fashion, and Canadian Art. From 2000 to 2004, Scott was a partner at Coast to Coast Newsstand Services. Scott has also held the post of VP Sales & Marketing, for CDS Global, Canada. Currently, CoversSell.Com is Scott’s circulation consultancy. Active clients include: Fly Fusion, Canadian Geographic, Canadian House & Home, Canada’s History, Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Canadian Woodworking, Canadian Cycling, Canadian Running, Canadian Scrapbooker, Legion, Harrowsmith, SkyNews, and SuperTrax.

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