In Defense of Celebrities (Sort Of)
Anita Sharpe on Business
What are you more likely to pick up in a waiting room? Vanity Fair or The Atlantic? Anyone in the magazine business has to spend some time thinking about celebrities, because, like it or not, they sell magazines.
Ann Moore, CEO of Time Inc., once said that picking the right cover for People magazine can drive an unbudgeted $1 million to the bottom line. Indeed, just look at celebrity-driven titles like US and In Touch -- first-half newsstand sales jumped 54% and 67% respectively.
Actors sell, musicians sell, but putting a non-Kennedy-related politician on a magazine cover almost always is the kiss of death.
Why the celebrity fascination and why is it escalating? I think it's at least partly related to our own desires for more creative work. People want to read about people who at least appear to be pursuing their passions. As for politicians -- well, their work comes a little too close to the bureaucracy of cubicle culture to be truly inspiring.
For our part, we just shipped the cover shot for Worthwhile to the printer yesterday. While we have a few celebrities featured in the premiere issue, we decided against a celebrity cover. Instead, we chose a photo that we have never before seen -- or anything even close -- on a business magazine. It's an image that speaks volumes about the way our work lives are changing.