Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Singled Out: The New Yorker's Cover Switcheroo

No, I am not going to give up my New Yorker subscription because of it, but the November 27th edition (last week's mag) had an odd bit of something-or-other surrounding their cover. As everyone knows, the New Yorker covers are works of art unto themselves. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a framed cover or two around, and I've certainly been in plenty of bathrooms that had a cover on the wall. (The guest bathroom at one college friend's house was papered in NY covers.)

If the November 27th edition had shown up with no comment on the cover, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. It wouldn't have been my all time favorite, or the all time worst. Just kind of middlin' blah. But on the inside, the editors reveal that there were four different covers for the week. I just happened to luck into the kind-of-boring one that was the most like a traditional NY cover, but not as interesting as the ones that someone, somewhere got.

Even that wouldn't have irked me until I was at my sister's and saw that her November 27th NY had a much "funner" cover than mine. I then asked a friend about her cover. She, too, got a better deal than I did. We all share similar zip codes, etc., so I can't for the life of me figure out why I got the boring cover and Kathleen and Ann got ones that were more interesting. But, of course, I'M NOT GONNA LET IT BOTHER ME.

Still, from a marketing point of view, I have to wonder what The New Yorker is after here. They're not soliciting feedback, or asking us to go online and vote for our favorite. (They do state that all four covers will be on their web site, but I can state in turn that if you get there a bit late in the game, i.e., on the "cover day" of November 27th, good luck trying to find them.)

So, what is it that they're trying to prove?

If this were some type of ingenious micro-marketing, I might be offering them some kudos. But that doesn't appear to be the case. So what exactly have they accomplished, other than signaling that they're willing to spend extra $$$ on a print run that doesn't benefit their readership in any particular fashion. If they wanted to play with the newsstand run, that would have been one thing. This I just don't get. If they wanted to do multiple cover versions for us loyal, long term subscribers they should have at least had the courtesy to let us see all of the different versions, full-sized. (The magazine does show thumbprint versions of each cover.)

Whatever aesthetic (i.e., artsy-fartsy) point they're trying to prove, from a marketing viewpoint, I must say that this effort doesn't cover their marketing department in any glory.

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