Magazines tout multiple covers

25 June 2013
NEW YORK: Major publishers of print magazines, including Condé Nast, Hearst, and Time, are turning to multiple front covers as a way of generating increased consumer interest and ad revenue.

Earlier this year, for example, a Time issue had 12 covers worldwide enabling the publisher to recruit different advertisers in different territories.

"It has become more of a 'go-to,'" Jed Hartman, group publisher for news and business at Time Inc, told the New York Times. He noted that magazine covers had a power to attract readers, so "when you bring out a surprising version of that cover, it can be very impactful."

The trend started with fashion titles where personalities typically feature on the cover and where the cover shoot is a major part of an issue's total budget. Multiple covers allowed editors to feature more than one image and so make the shoot more cost-effective.

Michael Clinton, president for marketing and publishing director at Hearst Magazines said the practice also offered advertisers "a big bang for their buck right out of the gate", explaining that publishers will generally look to sell the ad space inside all the front covers to the same advertiser.

"We're interested in new ideas and new approaches, new ways to connect with our broad client base," said Dermot Boden, chief brand officer at Citigroup, the bank.

Referring to the aforementioned issue of Time, which featured the magazine's annual list of influential people, he explained: "This particular one, we felt we just couldn't resist."

Publishers conceded that the tactic needed to be used sparingly, and should be driven by editorial rather than sales considerations.

"If you did it too much, it would dilute the effectiveness and impact," argued Jason Wagenheim, vice president and publisher at Teen Vogue, part of Condé Nast, which has in the past run multiple covers featuring One Direction, the boy band.

Eric Schwarzkopf, publisher of Fitness magazine, concurred. "There may be some fatigue factor for readers. We don't want to annoy or upset them in any way," he said.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff
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