March 10, 2005
Soft-Core Porn (Marketing)
Jim posted an interesting topic about soft porn in magazines. For instance, he posted a picture of the Outside magazine that had a picture of a nude woman strategically covered, who is a rock climber, and he mentioned the bicycling magazine’s sex issue, which showed nude, but covered women bicyclists. Jim brought up a good point: Why do these magazines feel they need to show that?
I posted two responses about the magazines, one that was mostly about the lack of real deep content, which I think Jim was also saying when he talked about the Outside magazine, “Anyway, Outside doesn't do interesting pieces like that anymore. Now they do a bunch of shit that looks like it could be found in any men's health magazine: what to eat, what to wear, how to get laid more, pictures of unnaturally muscular men doing Tai Chi. And they also have become a purveyor of soft-core porn.”
Jim has a valid point.
Then I posted a second time talking about the advertisements to identify who these magazines are being marketed to. I did not even go into the types of articles being written for a target audience, but I think that applies also. Perusing the magazine rack, there seem to be more and more soft-porn articles also, like in one of the men’s fitness magazines Jim mentioned carrying an article titled, “The orgasm almanac: How to keep her coming back for more.” I look at magazines like that and see that it’s mostly about body building and according to the many advertisements in the magazine for supplements to build ‘bulk,’ I’d guess these magazines are targeted toward young male body builders.
Then posted to a comment on Jim’s article, I listed the advertisements in my Time magazine, in which I did not see any soft porn, but according to the advertisements, that I think it’s targeted toward aging baby boomers with a good income. You have to read Jim’s post and my comments to see what I mean on that one.
Now I’d like to continue this idea with a different magazine to see how the advertisements indicate the audience intended for the magazine. An interesting discovery came out of this for me, in that I did not pay attention to the ads when I bought the magazine and I did not expect what I would find in the Psychology Today magazine, mainly because I’m highly interested in psychology and I enjoy their articles, so I would have expected to be part of the target audience, but I’m NOT according to the advertisements:
Premium Fresh Step Scoopable Kitty litter – Step into a fresher house.
Capella University degree’s online featuring a woman outdoors with sun reflecting off her hair looking into the distance. The caption said, “Extend a hand and see what a difference you can make.”
Judy Singer’s MetaSystem weight loss pills showing a before and after picture of a middle aged woman and a quote, “I went from size 16 to 8 in 3-1/2 months”
Better Eggs (lower fat, less cholesterol) ad showing a woman holding up a plate of eggs smiling
Barbara’s Bakery Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls cereal, saying “Sometimes Smaller is better”
Hidden Valley Ranch dressing showing a young girl running through a grassy field holding a carrot dipped in the dressing.
CIIS New masters degree in integrative health studies
BehaviorialScienceBooks book club
Glad ForceFlex stretchable strength kitchen garbage bags
True.com – Find out what True Love feels like – Find your soulmate
Yogi Tea – Organic Woman’s Teas – Supports Breast Cancer Research
Neuromins Dietary supplements DHA showing a woman drinking a cup of coffee or tea smiling.
Lyc-O-Mato Dietary supplement
LycoMato Tomato Lycopene Complex
The i-ching Book of answers “if you have ever doubted what action to take in a situation, this book will end that doubt”
Two Perennial Currents books called, “How can I forgive you?” and “After the Affair”
Estroven Menopause Monitor home test kit
Concerta once-daily methylphenidate HCI “With Concerta, I see Matt. Not his ADHD.”
Zand Changes for Women Day and Night formula
Nature’s Path Optimum Choice organic cereals showing a woman riding fast on a dirt trail on a mountain bike smiling.
Zzone Sleep Solution showing a woman with fist raised in the air, the caption reading, “Unleash your personal power.”
National Mental Health Association asking the question, “How can you make a REAL difference?”
Shen Therapy Institute, True emotional healing is much more than merely releasing emotion.
The Psychology Today bookshelf, advertising it’s books
An ad for Stephen Levine’s book Unattended Sorrow.
Clayton College of Natural Health, Celebrating 25 years educating the Leaders of Natural Health
409 deep-cleansing formula for a kitchen so clean it shines
Tempur-Pedic Pressure Relieving Swedish Mattresses and Pillows
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes – don’t just clean. Clean and disinfect.
Find a therapist! You want to talk to someone...but how do you find the right person? showing a woman sitting in a soft chair looking on her laptop – psychology today dot com.
Tilex Mold and Mildew remover with pictures of super models, saying Their homes have mold too.
RosettaStone language learning software showing a woman at a table with a laptop
Glad Press’n Seal food wrap
MHP Thyro-Slim complete weight loss program – Breakthrough formula is making women smile!
EstroLogic Natural Estrogen Balance Herbal Supplement
Whole Ground Flaxseed meal containing Omega-3 fatty acid
Zand liquid formula Glucosamine and Zanergy showing a woman rock climber on the face of a cliff
CortiSlim As seen on TV weight loss dietary supplement showing a series of pictures of one woman going from fat to slim with her arms up in the air smiling saying, “This has already been the BEST YEAR of my life!”
I’m probably not saying anything new here, because it may be pretty obvious that magazines and advertisers target specific audiences. They want buyers and subscribers. But something I haven’t said, is what kind of a message are these magazines sending to their target audiences? In Pscychology Today it seems to be that a woman’s job is still in the home. In the Time magazine it seems to be that to be successful you need to buy luxury vehicles and invest your money wisely. In the Men’s fitness magazine it seems to be get more muscle, get more power, get more women.
Is that what life is all about? Have we had our fill of soft-core marketing?
Posted by carl1236 at March 10, 2005 8:49 PM | Attitude
I appreciate your comments earlier. You've got me to thinking about this topic of marketing. It's pretty clear to me that most magazines are a vehicle for ad space, with content being of secondary importance, if that. It's a real shame if you ask me. Once upon a time, I used to learn stuff when I read magazines.
Just running through a few pages of Outside Magazine, I see ads for sports cars, sporty SUVs, expensive booze/wine, shoes/boots, motorcycles, ATVs, weird outdoor clothing, expensive Swiss sport watches, expensive sunglasses, GPS systems, high end mountain bikes, and tourism boards of various states. The pictures in the ads all convey a sense of adventure. One ad has a picture of a guy dangling precariously over the edge of a cliff on a rope. Another is a blurry picture of a guy racing down a wooded hillslope on a mountain bike. There are pictures of soaking wet Rolex watches surrounded by rocks and plants in a wilderness setting. It seems to be saying: Here's the tough equipment you need to be a big time adventurer; buy this garment and you too can reach the North Pole on skis.
Back when I was in undergrad, my friends and I did some fairly serious hikes, canoe trips, and other outdoor adventures. We were in the prime of youth and not scared of anything. Most folks thought we were nuts. But we were nowhere near what Outside implies is normal outdoor activity: surfing tsunamis, climbing Everest, 200 mile/day bike tours in the fjords of Norway, dangling thousands of feet over rocky precipices in Colorado. There can't be enough people in the world who actually do that stuff to make this magazine viable on those numbers alone. I suppose, like Hugh Hefner figured out 50 years ago, they've decided to cater to the most wildly impossible fantasies the human mind can conjure. I loved that article they had years ago about going after whitefish behind the power plant in my old college town. That was realistic. Something any of us could do if we wanted to. Something my friends and I did many times. Maybe to some people, wilderness skiing in Denali is as mundane as jigging for whitefish in the St Mary's River at 4 AM after a night of hard drinking. I don't know. Sooner or later, there won't even be articles anymore, just little "factoids" scattered in a sea of garish ads.
Posted by: Jim at March 10, 2005 9:38 PM
Sooner or later? Haha, I think that's alrady happened with magazines. little "factoids" to show some expertise, with no details behind them.
Another point I have about advertising, is that if we weren't buying it, they wouldn't be doing it. So what does that say about us as a society? We want everything fast and now, with as little effort as possible. We see technology as the answer to solve the problems we create by having this attitude. The advertisers don't really gamble on target audiences, given the costs involved. They want people to buy their products.
I guess this is true for all outdoor sports - people want to do it all, but don't want to put in the serious effort to train, learn and build expertise and fitness. People want to buy their way to the top of Mount Everest.
Since things like bicycling and running require building up some kind of physical fitness, we can't just be totally fit over night. Many people get sucked into the idea that the equipment makes the athlete. But the athlete uses the equipment like a musician plays an instrument. You have to have the skills and the heart first. I just spent the last two weeks riding a bike I pulled out of the garbage, took off the derailer and even converted an old-time baby seat into a bike rack, also taken out of the garbage. I did not have any problems commuting on this bike until just the other day when I tried to chase a car down and had my chain snap.
What does it prove? People don't have to be the target audience the advertisers think they are.
Thanks for you comments Jim, I enjoyed reviewing this topic again.
Posted by: John at July 31, 2005 9:32 PM
Surely the fallacy is exposed when a person takes off the $3000 dollar watch and puts on the cheap digital. As we are told (unsuccessfully) to evaluate ourselves in the dollar value of our possessions, the above watch-wearer has gone from patrician to human scum in 2 clicks of a bracelet.
What about the enthusiast, who owns possessions of considerable value in a certain category, but generally buys the normal stuff ? We can use our example of para 1 - our $3000 watch wearer can be dressed in dirty boots and a selection of old shirts, all with holes. He loads his $4000 guitar and $1500 amp into his $2000 car and disappears into the night, wearing the digital. When he gets
to the gig, no-one cares how much it is all worth - what concerns them is how good it sounds and how well it works.
I can flog this topic to death, but why ?
My perception of the fallacy of material worship is this, based on my own life: the worker-bunny, having slaved virtuously for 5 days, escapes homewards with happy squeaking noises. Upon arrival, the worker relaxes under a tree in the back garden or in an ancient armchair. There is no time or energy to waste on "retail therapy".
We try to fill our lives with fun, and those who measure themselves by the number of diamonds on their Rolexes are wasting their time with unimportant rubbish.
Next time you meet one of those people, get them to put their watch in their drink. They will probably refuse - laughable, considering that the reputation of the Rolex Oyster is based in part on being very waterproof.
Posted by: Alan at October 20, 2005 9:22 PM