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Media Studies

Number 023

Magazines: An Introduction The aims of this Factsheet are to: • Define the differences between consumer, business and customer orientated magazines • Explore the links between magazines and advertising • Discuss the role of institution in magazine production • Examine the impact of online magazine editions

3. Customer Orientated Magazines are produced in-house by companies as a way of promoting their brand. Television companies such as Channel Four and the BBC also produce a wide selection of magazines that complement their programme schedules. Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer all produce inhouse magazines that adhere to high production values. Because the publications are of a high quality and contain the same amount of content as a consumer magazine customers usually have to pay a small charge for them. Some customer orientated magazines that are free, such as in-flight magazines. Lower cost examples often have low production values, contain a limited amount of features and use a lot of advertising to cover up the lack of content and limited production costs.

Magazines first appeared as early as 1731 and their initial purpose was to advertise consumer goods in a catalogue format to highlight the range of products available for purchase by audiences. Although the formats of current magazines are more sophisticated, it could be argued that modern magazines still provide the same function as their ancestors. Contemporary magazines act as lifestyle handbooks, directing audiences towards the products and lifestyles they should aspire to lead. The National Readership Society recently discovered that over 80% of British consumers of all ages and both sexes regularly buy magazines.

Home and Garden and Max Power: Two very different magazines promoting different lifestyles targeting different audience interests.

Definition Mainstream Magazines: These magazines are aimed at a large and broad audience and the needs of the consumer are generalised. Niche Market Magazines: These magazines are aimed at a smaller audience whose needs are specific to the magazine produced.

Audiences are generally attracted to magazines because they offer a lot of information on a variety of topics in a format which is easy to read and is often written in a style that is also entertaining. The frequency of publication varies with each magazine produced. WestSound_Magazine_Cover.jpg

Mainstream magazine editions are usually printed on regular intervals either weekly or monthly, while some niche publications are published quarterly. Magazines can be classified into three distinct groups: m e d i a / F u l l s i z e / maxpowerdec.jpg

AQA/WJEC/OCR? Magazines are an appropriate form to use within the case studies in preparation for examinations for all awarding bodies both in their paper and e-media form. In addition, the form could be used as a text in the unseen examination and as the basis for production work at both AS and A2.

1. Consumer Magazines are the most common type of magazine. Consumer magazines can be further divided into sub-genres such as: • Women’s Lifestyle Magazines • Men’s Lifestyle Magazines • Youth magazines • Domestic (House and Garden) magazines • Radio and TV guides • Special Interest Magazines: e.g Bridal, Mother and Baby, Slimming, Computer, Hobby related titles

Exam Hint:- The AS examination will expect you to analyse the media language (technical codes) and investigate the institutional context and the impact of the representations within magazines. At A2 you would be expected to provide a more detailed evaluation of the institutional context and the ideological issues raised by the titles you study.

2. Business Magazines are usually only available by subscription and tend to focus on specific jobs, trades or professions.


Media Studies

023. Magazines: An Introduction

Magazine Front Covers – The Shop Window

Case Study: Esquire Magazine

All magazines have common features that help to distinguish them from other print-based media. Magazine front covers are designed to attract the consumer and generate an interest in the material contained inside. The consumer should be able to identify the magazine’s genre from glancing at the front cover and interpreting the codes and conventions it displays.

Esquire acts as an example of how a men’s Lifestyle Magazine promotes a lifestyle and a set of associated ideologies via the goods and articles featured within it. Features with titles such as ‘How to Spot a Gold Digger’ and ‘Smart, Sexy, Stylish’ all hold connotations of a wealthy and professional lifestyle but also begin to identify the importance that image has within this lifestyle and a potential problem for men within it – women who may be after the reader’s money. Through its front cover Esquire immediately identifies itself as a publication which can offer solutions and advice to men who have this lifestyle both with the ‘Gold Digger’ article also helping the audience know ‘What to Wear’. The magazine contains adverts and features on expensive designer brands and cosmetics, while advertising exotic and luxurious holiday destinations. These products offer the reader a lifestyle to aspire to, one they can achieve through buying the goods being advertised and the adoption of the attitudes of the magazine itself. The target audience is identified, not just through gender but also income and their own personal values.

I m a g e : w w w. m a g s c r i b e r. c o m / 24_fashion-beauty-magazine... All magazines use the following media language choices on their front cover: • A striking masthead • Photographs that relate directly to the main featured article • Promotions and features to entice the audience to buy the magazine

Activity Lifestyle magazines like Glamour and FHM are the most popular genre of magazine. They will always contain: • Competitions • Editor’s letter/column • Feature articles/interviews • Letters pages • Contents page • Advertisements • Advice column • Product review features • Advertorials

Choose a Lifestyle Magazine and examine the lifestyle it is offering the reader? What is this lifestyle? How is it promoted? What are the assumed values within this lifestyle?

Sometimes publications offer free gifts on the cover and discounts inside to make the lifestyle on offer appear more ‘available’ to the consumer. This advertising technique allows magazines to stand out from their competitors to grab their target audience’s attention. A USP may not always be a gift or discount. Some publications, such as celebrity focussed Lifestyle Magazines, offer exclusive interviews and photographs of popular celebrities in order to maximise sales.

Definition Advertorial: An advertorial is an advertisement that is written in the style of an editorial piece or a feature article. Often it will discuss the merits of a product and attempt to sound objective in order to convince audiences to buy the product they are writing about. Magazines use this style of discreet adverting because of the large amount of advertising revenue they receive from companies to promote their products.

Definition Unique selling point (USP): Helps a magazine stand out from its competitors by offering the audience something other magazines don’t offer.

Magazine Institutions and Producers

Lifestyle Magazines aim to make a profit by selling audiences to advertisers. Different types of Lifestyle Magazines exist and all of them promote a variety of lifestyles to their audiences through the ideologies they produce. Lifestyle Magazines purposefully construct an ideology around the concept of an ideal lifestyle which the reader can aspire to by consuming the text and can achieve, at least in part, by buying the goods advertised in their magazine. In order to do this the magazines have to be able to create audience identification with the lifestyle on offer while offering them slightly more than what they already consume.

Many of the magazine publishers in the UK are members of larger media organisations. These organisations produce a variety of titles to compete with the other titles available. Institutions will produce a variety of magazines of the same genre using a specific house style because each magazine needs to be recognisable when on the shelf amongst other similar titles. Magazine institutions often use a house style which is a format that will be used throughout all the magazines they produce and each magazine within the group will also have a recognisable ‘look’.

Definition House style: Refers to the selected font size, type-face, layout and cropping of images used in magazines produced by the same institution. The use of a standard set of design elements makes the brand recognisable.


Media Studies

023. Magazines: An Introduction

Lifestyle Magazines in particular make a profit by selling specific audiences directly to advertisers. Lifestyle magazines attempt to cater to specific interests within their general target group which creates niche audiences. This ensures that advertising can attempt to more accurately meet the needs and similar consumer needs allowing advertisers and magazine institutions to identify and target the audiences that are likely to consume their products.

Activity Find three titles that are produced by the same institution. How does the house style carry itself across all three publications? Are there differences between the publications? Use the example below to help you.

Case Study: Northern and Shell Media Northern and Shell produces New, Star and OK magazine. All three publications are consumer Lifestyle Magazines with a focus on celebrity stories and gossip and seem to be targeting the same audience. This audience is women in the mid-youth range who are interested in celebrity gossip and exclusive stories. The house style used in all three magazines is similar creating a visual group identity. The writing style used in the lures and headlines all follow a similar informal style using direct address, ‘My Amazing Weight loss’, ‘Victoria’s Bought Me a Pair of Shoes… We’re Inviting the Beckhams for Dinner’ and ‘Yes, I Was on Drugs on GMTV’.

Exam Hint:- All magazines with the exception of BBC publications generate the majority of their income through advertising revenue. When answering any exam questions on magazine audiences consider the impact that advertisers and the products they advertise in your magazine may be having on the ideologies that have shaped the magazines content.

Case Study: Yours Magazine Yours is a consumer Lifestyle Magazine aimed at older adult women. The use of celebrities like Dame Judt Dench and Denise Welch reinforces the age group the magazine is attempting to target. The headlines and lures used on the cover help the reader identify the age group that are being targeted ‘Tone and Slim at 50+’ and ‘Dame Judi, Fabulous at 70’.

These direct quotes act as a lure to the target audience, because they imply the celebrity involved wants to confide in the audience and this appears to create a personal connection between star and reader. The cropped images used in the smaller stories are framed in a white border in all three publications making these less significant images stand out. The photographs used in the main stories are posed shots and reinforce that the interview is an exclusive. The use of colours in each publication is the same. All three magazines use pink, red, yellow and white to grab audience attention. OK and Star use a different font to New but OK and Star have similar high production values, offering glossy front pages, exclusive interviews and free magazines inside. New has a lower production value but sells at a lower price. New’s focus is more on gossip than exclusives and so meets a slightly different audience need. All three titles are fulfilling a voyeuristic need in the audience. Although there are small differences, the house style carries itself across each publication through each magazines use of colour, photographs and the written style of the headlines. yours200501.jpg

The advertisements that feature in the magazine again reinforce the target audiences’ age group because they focus on funeral plans, holidays, anti-wrinkle creams, orthopaedic chairs, stair lifts, life insurance and high street clothing. These advertisements make stereotypical assumptions about the age group they are targeting. The consumer goods advertised in the magazine are affordable items and accessible to a broad range of readers irrespective of income. The aspirations and ideologies that are reinforced through the magazine are of women who in their later years still want to maintain their independence, mobility, health, social lives, share life experiences and who are still interested in beauty and fashion. The readers are identified as being of an older generation who are not frivolous with their money and this is reinforced by the offer of payment plans as opposed to credit which is a feature of many magazines aimed at younger audiences. The advertisements for funeral plans in particular reinforce this ideology through their use of slogans such as ‘peace of mind for you and those close to you’. The past is important to readers of this magazine and this is again reinforced through the representations used of black and white photography and the focus on past Hollywood stars and readers’ lives. This magazine adopts the role of a friend, allowing the reader to re-visit the past. This provides a niche market as few women’s magazines are targeted at this age group and advertisers of products related to this lifestyle can be sure their adverts are being read by the people most likely to be interested in what they have to sell.

Definition Lure: a sub-heading used on the front of a magazine to entice potential consumers into buying the magazine. Lures often create an enigma (mystery) and offer the promise of disclosure within the magazine itself.

Magazine Advertising and Marketing Advertising is an important source of revenue for all magazines. Advertisers invest a lot of money into magazines because magazine advertising can target their consumers directly. Magazines seek advertising because it generates more financial income for the magazine than the sale of the magazine itself. Covert advertising, such as editorials and advertorials, helps fund the publication and links the products advertised to the aspirations of the audience.

Activity: Choose a magazine and examine the advertisements that feature in it. What products are being advertised? What do these products tell you about the aspirations and ideologies of your target audience? Can you identify the age group, gender, income, culture, and lifestyle of the target audience?


Media Studies

023. Magazines: An Introduction

Online Magazines Many mainstream magazines now offer online versions and archives of past publications. With audience consumption of magazines increasing, it is important to consider why online editions are beneficial to both institutions and audiences. The use of online editions allows greater investment potential from advertising companies. Some online editions ensure readers have to register personal details about themselves. This allows a profile to be built around the reader, allowing advertisers to direct their advertising very specifically. These advertisements appear around each page and are interactive, offering advertisers the potential to promote impulsive online purchases from their target audience. The target audience’s gender often influences how popular the online version of a magazine will be. Male magazines appeal to their audience with the offer of video and image downloads which are not available in the magazines. Downloads cost the reader additional money but offer something that the magazine cannot. The online subscription for FHM also provides five online television channels and chat forums that allow readers to interact with the models that star in the magazine. The sale of mobile phone wallpapers and ringtones also contributes to the profit made by the publishers. Female publications such as Closer and Reveal offer online diet and weight loss clinics. These clubs allow readers to interact with each other while losing weight providing a sense of community similar to men’s magazines. The magazines offer diet plans, support and 24 hour advice. Articles featuring celebrities who have successfully lost weight using their diets also feature. OK offers readers the opportunity to buy past issues while Glamour provides an online edition with a downloadable fashion and beauty television channel. Prima Magazine’s Web Site has a focus on audience interaction and contains advertising which is closely targeted towards the assumed interests and values of the audience of the magazine.

Magazines profit through online editions in a variety of ways. Online profiles help create a sense of unity between readers and magazines such as Closer, FHM and OK provide chat rooms for their readers to meet and discuss issues raised in both the world and in the magazines. All online sites offer readers the opportunity of buying a magazine subscription often with the offer of a ‘free gift’. Online editions also generate more profit because they do not incur the production and distribution costs that traditional magazine production accumulates.

Summary Magazines provide diversion, entertainment and information which is carefully targeted to appeal to a pre-defined target audience. Each magazine attempts to reflect its audience’s interests and values back to them and this, combined with advertising and promotions within the magazines, defines an aspirational lifestyle which can be accessed via the consumer goods identified within the advertising content. Magazines have two sets of customers: the readership who buys the magazine and the advertisers who fund production and provide profit for the magazine.

Acknowledgements: This Media Studies Factsheet was researched and written by Emma Cairns Curriculum Press. Bank House, 105 King Street, Wellington, TF1 1NU. Media Factsheets may be copied free of charge by teaching staff or students, provided that their school is a registered subscriber. No part of these Factsheets may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any other form or by any other means, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISSN 1351-5136


23 Magazines intro  

The aims of this Factsheet are to: • Define the differences between consumer, business and customer orientated magazines • Explore the links...

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