Sorry Ashton, The Shooter Took You Out: The Story behind Esquire’s Split Cover…February 15, 2013
The March cover of Esquire magazine is creating a buzz, a major buzz, on the nation’s stands. And this cover can only be found on the nation’s newsstands. As you can see, it is a typographical cover with some explosive words (no pun intended) to say the least. This is not your usual cover for Esquire. But, the cover story is not usual either. However subscribers are receiving the more traditional cover of the magazine with Ashton Kutcher’s picture and the usual array of coverlines.
In general, I do not believe in splitting covers. I think it as as important to sell your subscribers on what’s inside as it is potential newsstand buyers.
In this case, we had a story of major importance—the first time the SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden spoke, both about the raid and, more important, about the slipshod way veterans (including our most elite forces) are treated when they leave the service—and a story that I thought could inspire a cover that make a splash when it hit newsstands.
The story came together much later than usual for a large feature and we were actually unsure if we could get it into the issue in time. So we prepared both two covers and two versions of the feature well. (Two stories were actually held for future issues when we completed work on “The Shooter.”)
At that point, we decided that we would promote the story as aggressively as we could with all the covers going to the newsstand and then go with a more conventional cover (with a dramatic coverline above the logo about “The Shooter.”)