Cover art teases consumer interest by provoking curiosity to purchase in order to obtain what is inside. This applies to book covers and (used to be) album-turned-CD covers. The latter entered its heyday when albums were big and the tunes couldn't sell themselves as they buyer handled the product in the stores. So, a little deconstruction of the art is in order in a comparative cover graphic post focused on one of today's leading cultural men. What's the pull here?
What is the mess of March coverman George Clooney? Who is the target audience and why? What does this say? Do moms want to know? Probably not. Single women? Probably not for Esquire. (Men under 34 are the heaviest readers of magazines.) Men, wanting to know what is the appeal behind the man? Why he is such a leading man? Is there dirt here? Conflict of a mess, waiting to be told? International movie star George Clooney on the covers of Esquire for March and the NYTimes March 9 Sunday Style Magazine, is attention-getting for the fact that they both indicate messiness (click to enlarge the photo). The NYTimes has him pictured in an extreme close-up all grossly dirty and messy while Esquire features him all cleaned up casual with a messy teaser. Media stats show that older men - 55 and up - are the heaviest readers of newspapers, but I bet the NYTimes Style mag appeals to younger guys (35 and under, the diamond bracket to appeal to for marketers --hence the edgy dirty face).
Equire's lead story highlights Coverman Clooney with a big headliner. The lead header above is his first name George (oh, his head is the O -- interesting graphic for the second most interesting leader nationally known by that name and so intimate - we are informal people and we know famous people by single names - Obama, Prince, Ringo, W). To the left of his photo is the rest of the lead story headline: Clooney Finally Talks About the Whole Mess That Is His Miserable Life.
Both media graphic cover illustrations communicate that there is more beneath the cover to the man. Just the juxtaposition of these two covers is worth an examination itself for the iteration of the idea in two different national publications with broad audience (male) reach.
I like to ponder what the art of the medium says by design but don't have time or interest to read either of these stories. As a married mom raising a son, I just am curious: what appeal does the mess of this man have, and to whom, and why? Culturally? For fun: If you put yourself on the cover, what would be the story? The title of the magazine? The graphic? Digitally you can do this creative exercise. Go mother yourself with creativity - play magazine cover editor/designer.
No, seriously, this isn't play. Our culture is undergoing a huge shift. A recent study (pdf) for marketing to men showed that 50% of men in over 13 countries surveyed felt that their role in society is unclear and 80% don't identify with advertising geared to them. So how do they understand themselves? Cultural think tank scenarioDNA was part of the study. Men don't drink beer in the lounge chair watching tv anymore. Real men... (finish the sentence).