There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 percent more readers.—David Ogilvy
Editorial spreads are the meat of any fashion magazine or website. These creative pieces show us the latest fashion and stir our imaginations with romantic and exotic dreams of what life is like when one is wearing clothes from labels such as Armani, Prada, Dior, and others. Editorials are the primary reason people buy fashion magazines in the first place. Even more, fashion labels rely on those editorials to advertise their goods. When we see an editorial that excites us, we’re more likely to buy those styles.
David Ogilvy wasn’t the first advertising executive to think of placing ads that look like an editorial. He was, however, masterful at knowing where to place them. He worked with publishers such as Condé Nast, publisher of such fashion titles as Vogue and Vanity Fair, to not only place editorial-looking ads within the pages of the magazines, but on the covers as well.
Yes, my friends, covers can be bought. They’re not cheap, of course, and publishers are understandably reluctant to admit that what should be an editorial decision is based more upon the size of someone’s checkbook. In fact, it has long been known among advertising insiders that the cover of Vogue comes with a substantial price tag, though publicly the magazine’s editor in chief, Anna Wintour, will adamantly deny such.
At the same time, we all know that tie-ins are crucial to marketing a new movie and the much-anticipated Zoolander2 has the best fashion tie-in potential of any movie since, well, the original. Already, we’ve seen Derek Zoolander and Hansel walk in Valentino’s Fall 2015 runway presentation. That act alone seemed over-the-top and was the talk of fashion week the rest of the season. This week, however, the movie scored the ultimate tie-in when it was announced that Zoolander would appear on the February cover of Vogue, complete with an “editorial” spread shot by Annie Leibovitz.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Zoolander is a lot of fun in an industry deserving more than a little parody. Even more, the success of the first movie enabled actor/producer Ben Stiller to gain the cooperation of almost every designer and fashion editor they approached. As a result, we can expect the second movie to be a veritable who’s who of fashion’s top personalities.
Getting the cover of Vogue, however, is an impressive coup. Ms. Wintour guards the cover of the brand’s flagship publication with no small amount of severity. There is no greater standard for fashion importance than Vogue’s cover. Anyone who thinks there wasn’t some form of deal between Stiller and Wintour is naïve. While it’s doubtful that Stiller simply wrote a check in return for the obvious favor, one can expect the film paid significantly for use of the brand’s name throughout the movie, and any number of other financial considerations may have been applied as well. The options are many.
What the move underscores, is how fashion is not now, nor ever has been, the level playing field some expect. When the Internet first began uncovering the ability of e-commerce to elevate the visibility of smaller brands, some thought it might become the great equalizer, that new, young designers might be able to make a name for themselves without putting in the years of thankless assisting at established houses. That dream has proven to be untrue, however, and this Vogue cover is a perfect example of why there never will be such an equalizer between small and large brands. So long as money and influence can buy editorial space in the most influential of magazines and websites, smaller players don’t stand a chance.
All that being said, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, which comes out right smack in the middle of the Fall 2016 ready-to-wear runway season. I fully expect to see multiple additional tie-ins, and perhaps even personal appearances, at more shows. Stiller does a great job of poking fun at the industry and we all do well to take ourselves a little less seriously, though.
Let there be no mistake, however, this cover was purchased. Advertising wins.