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SUCCESS Magazine is Gender Neutral, But No One Said Its Covers Can’t Be Gender Specific

September 23, 2011

How do you define Success? Well, the folks at Success Media, publishers of SUCCESS magazine since 2007 have their own definition of the word that identifies a legendary magazine founded in 1897 by Orison Swett Marden. Darren Hardy, the magazine current publisher and editorial director writes in the current issue of SUCCESS, “A successful person, by our definition, is one who has achieved five pillars of excellence: business, well-being, relationships, wealth and contribution.” Fair enough, a very gender neutral definition reflecting the tag line of the magazine, “What Achievers Read.”

However, the reason I am writing this blog is not the definition of success, but rather the way Success Media is approaching the issue of gender in a newsstand test of the magazine’s cover. As I was shopping for magazines (what else) at a Barnes & Nobel in Memphis, TN I saw a cover of SUCCESS different than the one I had at home. So far, so good. Nothing out of the ordinary. Most magazines have split covers and I am used to that and try to collect every cover I can put my hands on. The surprise was as I continued scanning and gathering my magazines to buy, I found the other cover of SUCCESS at the same newsstands, but in a different section. The green cover was at the women’s section and the blue cover was at the business section.

Flipping through the pages of the magazine I found the following note with a picture of the green cover in both copies: “If you see SUCCESS on the newsstand twice, you’re not seeing double. Look for our limited edition cover in the women’s interest section of Barnes & Noble.”

But to find both covers at Barnes & Noble get me thinking? A plan or a mistake? Why two covers and why the note sending you to the women’s interest section? Although I hate to oversimplify, but I feel that the green cover is designed with women in mind (thus the note to go to the women’s section of the stands) and the blue cover is designed with men in mind. The gender neutrality is over. How do I know? Just check the image of Dr. Oz, the cover lines or the absence of some cover lines in the green cover and the addition of “For You” to the name of the magazine. Also note the major change in the lead cover line, the blue cover offers Dr. Oz’s “11 Steps to Living Large and Living Longer,” while the green cover offers Dr. Oz’s “Rx for Looking Younger and Living Longer.” (click on the covers above to enlarge).

A new way of testing covers? Yes indeed. However here are few questions that one can’t but ask. Is business gender neutral? Is success gender neutral? Do “achievers” identify themselves as women or men first, and successful persons second? Or is it vice versa?

A whole lot of questions and only the folks at Success Media will know the answers once the results of the test are in… stay tuned and weigh in your comments. In the meantime enjoy this gender neutral blog.

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