Covers Sell

Covers Sell

ASME Cover of the Year

Posted by Scott On May - 4 - 2012

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) has announced the winner of the Cover of the Year award, in the 6th annual Best Cover Contest.

This year’s winner is the October 3rd, 2011 issue of New York magazine.

The announcement of the winning cover was made yesterday by Lucy Danziger, ASME President, and Editor-in-Chief of SELF, at the ASME Annual Meeting in New York City. 

“The editors deliberately chose a model representing the story at its most extreme and photographed her in the pose made iconic by Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair. Her belly was plumped with a prosthetic pillow, then carefully retouched to look real. The over-the-top poster-like cover was meant to stop consumers in their tracks-and it did.”

Did it, really? 

According to ABC stats, the winning cover sold 13,950 copies.  The average for the July-December 2011 statement was 14,204 copies.  So the winning cover sold below average.  Of the forty-two (42) issues published in 2011, fifteen (15), or 36% of all issues published by New York sold more copies.

Perhaps the cover stopped consumers in their tracks, oh the horror!, but really, if re-cycling an old idea from Vanity Fair 1991, is held up as somehow original, or artistically brilliant, or praiseworthy, rather than just a tacky, cheap, and sensational rip off, then so be it.  The idea has been riffed on so many times it really has become cliche, which is sad.  The original was such a classic.  See Hall of Fame

Just look at some of New York’s 2011 covers that not only stopped consumers in their tracks, but got them to reach into their pockets and purses and vote with their wallets.  These covers are just a few examples of what the City and Regonal genre does best.  The genre was invented by New York’s legendary editor Clay Felker.

According to ABC reports…

  • September 5th, 2011 (9-11)…100% better than ASME winner
  • December 19th (Love)…92% better than winner
  • June 13th (Baby)…89% better than winner
  • June 27th (Summer)…87% better than winner
  • Mar 14th (Best Of)…64% better than winner
  • January 3rd (Eat)…62% better than winner

These covers work hard at the primary mandates: 1) Reflecting positively on the brand, 2) getting subscription copies opened by eager readers, 3) selling copies at newsstand. After all, the readers are what matter the most.  Advertisers also matter to magazines, and the eyeballs of readers had better be demographically relevant, and of sufficient reach, when ABC or PMB-like readership results are under review. These covers delivered on all counts!

Just ask yourself:   How likely is it that New York’s cracker jack ad reps enclose the winning cover in their media kits, or take this cover out when calling on prospective advertisers, or when they visit Madison Avenue ad agencies?  Not likely?  If not why not?

I will critique the other ASME 2011 winners in my annual Reality Check.  If you wish to look at last year’s reality check, start here:

You’ll find the rest under the New & Networthy Icon.

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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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