Ads on covers of media

Maxim ad coverA new trend seems to be emerging in the media, and I don’t like it.

Maxim magazine is the latest to do it. I have a subscription, and the August issue isn’t out in stores yet. But if you look to the picture to the right, you’ll see this month’s cover (scroll down the post a little bit, and you’ll see what this month’s cover should be).

Instead of the normal cover, it’s an ad for 5-hour energy.

I’m guessing the front page ad is only for subscriptions, because I don’t think they’ll sell a lot of issues if the real cover isn’t there.

I’m in the media, and I understand the need to be looking for new methods to make a profit, but I’ve always disagreed with messing with the front page.

The front page is supposed to be the link that makes people want to buy/read your newspaper/magazine.

This isn't the actual cover of Maxim for August, at least if you have a subscription.

This isn't the actual cover of Maxim for August, at least if you have a subscription.

Now, Maxim isn’t the first to do it. The Los Angeles Times did it last month, using a full front page ad to advertise for True Blood, a HBO series about vampires. A community newspaper did it a month or so ago for a major grocery store.

But what happens if something majot breaks? I think that’s where it starts to get dicey. Are there clauses (at least for the daily newspapers) that say they can scrap the front-page ad if that happens?

In the L.A. Times edition, it was the day after the Lakers won the NBA championship. So instead of seeing a celebrating Lakers team, readers saw the vampire. I wonder how many people that bought the paper at a store or in a street box bought the competition that had the Lakers on the front?

This was the front page of the L.A. Times the day after the Lakers won the NBA championship.

This was the front page of the L.A. Times the day after the Lakers won the NBA championship.

The other downside is the fact the front page ad has the paper’s masthead over it. So it looks like the paper is supporting the ad. If the Times gives True Blood a good review (and is one of the view that does), how many people will question whether it’s because HBO paid so much money for a front-page ad? Does the paper’s integrity start to wane in some readers’ minds?

That’s the problem. It’s not just that newspapers need to keep up their integrity, but they also need to keep up the illusion of integrity.

As for Maxim, I find there’s enough problems with their subscription service without having to add this to it (for example, they were supposed to send the magazine in a plastic bag for me so the address strip wouldn’t appear on the cover — they didn’t; I also don’t get any of the extras that you get when you buy it at a store, such as a calendar included).

In the end, it’s a sad reflection on the state of journalism.

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4 Comments

Filed under entertainment, News

4 responses to “Ads on covers of media

  1. That the LA Times and other print media are deciding to sell ads on the last few dozen column-inches of space they’d left sacred may mean that they’re teetering on the edge of commercial failure.

    But, that doesn’t matter too much compared to the real problem — journalism is already dead.

    At least, that’s how it seems to me. It’s rare that I read (or watch, or listen to) a story on a subject I’m familiar with and come away thinking “wow, that reporter did a really good job”. Usually, I think “wow, why didn’t they look into X and Y, or ask some tough questions about Z when they had the chance?”. And then my mind begins to wander to other troubling questions — for example, if they didn’t get this right, what are the chances that this paper (or TV station, radio station, blog, whatever) reports accurately on the other issues they cover?

  2. Tom, I totally agree. I won’t go into detail, but I remember seeing a trial run of one in a familiar territory which sent me into a frenzy of angry e-mails.
    That is crazy about Maxim though, wow. I didn’t expect to see that on a high-profile magazine so soon.

  3. I’ve been delighted the past three weeks to get to know my new teammates through happy hour.

  4. spate

    Do people take a subscription to Maxim by choice? I had one forced on me after the death of EGM.. a magazine that frequently had these advercovers itself. (In EGM’s defence, theirs were rubber cemented on, and hence removable. The Maxim one is part of the binding.)

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