Monday, June 25, 2007

A mirror on the cover wasn't enough

Wired magazine is offering a new service. You can now have your own face on the cover of its magazine issue. I have to write it again just so it sinks in. The magazine is personalizing its issues to include your face on the cover.

Ahem. Apparently having a magazine put a mirror on the front so you can look at yourself and say "I'm the best person of the year!" wasn't enough, now we need to have our photos in bold color print. The whole idea was rather silly, but this new venture is a true testament to our growing narcissism. Over 5,000 subscribers went out of their way to submit their photographs to this magazine so they could see themselves on the cover of the next issue.

But I wonder what the point is? No one else is going to see it, unless you drag the issue to work and force your coworkers to look at it. Really, this does nothing but let the subscriber sit in his living room and gaze adoringly at himself on the cover of a magazine.

Of course, the real reason for this is not just to draw us in by stroking our self-loving egos, but to engage the audience in a new kind of magazine; one that is personalized for each subscriber. What will this mean? If you guessed "Advertising" you get a gold star (and a party with a banner that reads "You're special and super smart!"). Its really a brilliant idea. Food companies (especially those that sell frozen processed boxed stuff) advertise heavily in magazines, and there is a huge database of what kind of products you are buying sitting in some grocery stores computer that you have been kindly assisting them in compiling as you swipe your "club card".

The article ends with this:

If your cover is on a national magazine, but only on the issue you receive, does that qualify as your 15 minutes of fame?

No, but at least no one else will know you did it.

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