All 4 entries tagged Lifestyle

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March 25, 2008

Lifestyle "Celebrity" and Advertising

Lifestyle "Celebrity" and Advertising

Return to the Lifestyle Hub

Introduction

Elsewhere in the blog it has been argued that lifestyle magazines are an important part of an overall field of discourses which encourage a culture of consumption. This culture of consumption is based upon an increasing aestheticisation of life and the links to personal identity. People often start to believe that if they buy a product that is linked to a sporting 'personality' for example they can identify and be identified with them.

Celebrity, Branding & Advertising

This kind of pressure can be particularly important working on younger people and what can encourage this is a culture of "celebrity".  Celebrity is frequently when a particular individual frequently a sporting 'star' (personality might be too strong a word when including people who can barely string a sentence together). They can aslo be film stars or leading actors in popular TV series. Whilst the reality is that they are no often any more clever (frequently less) they have been proved to be quite good at something. This has then been hyped up by skillful branding agencies , public relations companies and individual agents. Linking rising stars to consumer products is often an expensive form of branding for the product but when the sporting star is at the top of his / her game this link can be beneficial to both. 

Beckham

Arecent survey in schools shows the power these ideas can have on naive younger people. As this BBC story from December 2007 reports arguably the effects are very powerful:

Children see some 10,000 TV adverts a year and recognise 400 brands by age 10, Children's Secretary Ed Balls says.

The numbers of children at school who are strongly influenced by the culture of celebrity is alarming as this BBC report from 14th of March 2008 notes:

Children's educational aspirations risk being damaged by the cult of celebrity, teachers' leaders have warned.

Some 60% of teachers said their pupils most aspired to be David Beckham, in a survey for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). More than a third said pupils wanted to be famous for the sake of being famous. Some 32% of the 304 teachers quizzed said their pupils modelled themselves on heiress Paris Hilton.

Paris Hilton Leaves Jail

As a spoilt rich kid allowed to what she liked she is cleary a good "role model". Here she is pictured coming out of jail after being incarcerated for ignoring a drink driving ban! (BBC June 2007). Hilton is a case of being famous for wait for it...... being famous. (Duh!!!!)

Activities

  1. Identify in your own lifestyle magazines the advertised products which are part of major brands.
  2. How many of them are associated with with Celebrities / Stars?
  3. Which ones?

March 24, 2008

Lifetyle Magazines & Branding

Lifestyle Magazines and Branding  

Return to Lifestyle Magazines Hub  

If one applies the categories of lifestyle applied to consumption as discussed above then it is important to have role models to help generate the desire to consume. The generation of the desire to consume goes beyond what might normally be expected of people in that it can encourage people to aspire to certain ways of living that can easily be reached provided one is prepared to spend money. It then is a matter of how the individual is prepared to spend that money. Magazines and other forms of media which can encourage the branding of goods are an extremely important mechanism for this.  

What is Branding?


There are many different definitions of a brand, the most effective description however, is that a brand is a name or symbol that is commonly known to identify a company or it’s products and separate them from the competition.

A well-known brand is generally regarded as one that people will recognise, often even if they do not know about the company or its products/services. These are usually the businesses name or the name of a product, although it can also include the name of a feature or style of a product.
Wolff Olins is a major branding company. Check out this page to see some of the future for branding. you should make sure you check out the TED video linked to the page. It really does do what it says on the box. (It does seem to be an image of what Web 3.0 might be as well ).
An Activity
  1. When you have suitably recovered think about the sponsorship and branding of the TED talks.
  2. How do you think sponsorship of TED can help build and maintain the brand of the company doing the sponsoring?

The overall ‘branding’ of a company or product can also stretch to a logo, symbol, or even design features (E.g.: Regularly used colours or layouts, such as red and white for Coca Cola.) that identify the company or its products/services. A lifestyle magazine itself becomes a brand in order to distinguish itself from other lifestyle magazines. Usually these magazines will have very tightly defined target markets and audiences. 

An example of powerful branding is Nike:
The Nike brand name is known throughout the world. Large numbers of people can identify the name and logo even if they have never bought any of their products.
However, not only is the company name a brand, but the logo (The ‘tick’ symbol) is also a strong piece of branding in its own right. The majority of people that are aware of the company can also identify it (or its products) from this symbol alone.
The sports clothing and running shoe company Adidas a competitor of Nike is well known for using three stripes on its range of products. This design feature branding allows people to identify their products, even if the Adidas brand name and logo is not present. 
How Branding Can  Benefit  Business

(i) Recognition and Loyalty

The main benefit of branding is that customers are much more likely to remember a business. A strong brand name and logo/image helps to keep a company image in the mind of  potential customers.

If a company sells products that are often bought on impulse, a customer recognising your brand could mean the difference between no-sale and a sale. This is very important in the world of clothing for example.
Even if the customer was not aware of a particular product, if they trust a brand, they are likely to buy a new or unfamiliar product. If  customers are  happy with a companies products or services, a brand can help to build customer loyalty across  a company.   Apple is a good example of a company who seeks to brand itself well in  the world of computers and also  items such as iPods  and now the iPhone.

(ii) Image of Size
A strong brand will project an image of a large and established business to your potential customers. People usually associate branding with larger businesses that have the money to spend on advertising and promotion. Effective branding,  can make a business appear to be much bigger and more important than it really is.

An image of size and establishment can be especially important when a customer wants reassurance that a company will still be around in a few years time.

(iii) Image of Quality

A strong brand projects an image of high quality. Many people see the brand as a part of a product or service that helps to show its quality and value. good branding also increase the social caché. iPods are more popular than Creative Zens partially because of branding.

A strong arguement for branding says that if a person is shown two or more identical products, only one of which is branded; they will almost always believe the branded item is higher quality. As a result they are prepared to pay a premium for this product.

If you can create effective branding, then over time the image of quality in your business will usually go up. Of course, branding cannot replace good quality, and bad publicity will damage a brand (and your businesses image), especially if it continues over a long period of time.
(iv) Image of Experience and Reliability

A strong brand creates an image of an established business that has been around for long enough to become well known. succcess breeds success.  A branded business is more likely to be seen as experienced in designing their products or providing services. As a result they will generally be seen as more reliable and trustworthy than an unbranded business. Many people also believe that a business would be hesitant to put their brand name on something that was of poor quality.  
        
(v) Multiple Products

If your business has a strong brand, it allows you to link together several different products or ranges. You can put your brand name on every product or service you sell, meaning that customers for one product will be more likely to buy another product from you.
For Example:

Sony sells a range of electronic consumer products laptop computers, music equipment, games consoles, camcorders, cameras, DVD players, mobile phones, and etc all under the Sony brand name.

Activities

Please feel free to use the comments box at the end of this posting to develop the discussion 
  • Please identify three well known brands from your two lifestyle magazines.
  • Now research these brands and print off examples where relevant of how they build their brand in other areas of print and non-print media
  • Where branding is done via broadcast technologies identify which channels the branding is done on and when they are broadcast. 
Things you should identify during this activity.
  1. Name of the brand
  2. Which products are being promoted
  3. How the brand is being promoted over and above the specific product
  4. Who the target audience is (gender / age/ ethnicity etc)
  5. What kind of aspirations are being linked to the brand
  6. Comment on how well you think the brand in question is managing to achieve its aims

Lifestyle Magazines and the Discourse of Consumption

You will by now have recognised the importance of lifestyle magazines as part of an interrelated discourse of consumption. By this I mean a whole field of activities which work effectively together to encourage people to consume as much as they possibly can.  


March 20, 2008

What is a Lifestyle Magazine

What is a Lifestyle Magazine?


Return to Lifestyle Magazines Hub


Introduction



What is Lifestyle?


The originates in sociology but has changed in its primary meaning since it was first used towards the end of the 1960s. Then it was more about how the ways in which people live are indicative of thier class position in society.  


In more recent work, the concept has been used more widely still to designate the tastes, attitudes, possessions or ways of behaving of any social group which distinguish it from any other social groups. In this sense anyconnectionbetween the concept of that and social class has been severed. (Abercrombie et al. Penguin Dictionary of Sociology).  


Consumer Culture


To fully understand the notion of lifestyle we need to have an understanding of what is meant by consumer culture.  This term argues that societies are increasingly organised around modes (ways) of consumption. The main charctersitics of the discussion within sociology and cultural studies has been organised arounfd the following points:


Rising Affluence. It is argued that the inhabitants of Western Societies now have far more money to spend on consumer goods, holidays and leisure.  

Working hours have been falling. Arguably this is leaving far more time for leisure pursuits.

Identity.  People are now taking thier identity more from what they consume and their activities as consumers and in their leisure. Previously people's work used to a far greater marker of identity. This particualr notion of identity works well with the arguments of sociologists like a?nthony Giddens who argue that as the older key factors influencing identity decrease in importance so self-reflexivity of people who thinl about thier identity and work to develp or change it increases. The older forms of identity such as class and work and also place are breaking down because of globalisation. 

The Aestheticisation of Everyday Life. There is far greater interest in the presentation of an image and construction of a lifestyl. The acquisition of certain goods are used as markers of a certain social position. 

Positional Goods.  These goods or services have desirability because they are scarce and therefore in short supply. Scarcity can be in both price or through cult status. Paradoxically the more people acquire them the less desirable they become. (The Burberry hat which became a 'Chav' symbol is perhaps an extreme example). Ownership of a Bentley/Aston Martin or a Hermes handbag are clear examples of positional goods. Of course there is a clear hierarchy in each range of products. Sometimes other goods will try to position themselves in relation to these goods. The relationship between Breitling watches and Bentley is a good example.

Consumption Cleavages. In the 19th and earlier part of the 20th century social class, race and gender were the major sources of social division. It is argued that these social divisions have been replaced by consumption cleavages describing the patterns of consumption above.

Growth of Consumer Power. It is argued that in consumer societies the consumer gains power at the expense of the producers. These producers may provide goods or be professionals offering services such as doctors, lawyers or teachers. The economic position of the consumer can in some respects be seen to be replacing political rights and duties - the consumer is replacing the citizen? 

Increasing Commodification of Everyday Life. The market is extending into all areas of life, shopping has become a leqaisure activity rather than a chore. 


These arguments tend to focus on the fact that in the past sociologists focused too much on issues of production in society including work experiences and the effects of paid work and not enough on issues of consumption. 

However many argue that this is not the case and that the increasing focus upon consumption rather than empowering consumers merely extends capitalist values. Ultimately it further polarises society into rich and poor.


Lifestyle Magazines and Branding  


If one applies the categories of lifestyle applied to consumption as discussed above then it is important to have role models to help generate the desire to consume. The generation of the desire to consume goes beyond what might normally be expected of people in that it can encourage people to aspire to certain ways of living that can easily be reached provided one is prepared to spend money. It then is a matter of how the individual is prepared to spend that money. Magazines and other forms of media which can encourage the branding of goods are an extremely important mechanism for this.  


Lifestyle Magazines and Gender

The markets that are created for lifestyle magazines frequently revolve around the issues of gender construction. The frequent use of nearly naked women on the front of GQ is an excellent example of the continuing predominance of a constructed male gaze despite or more likely as a backlash response to feminism which at its core demanded women to be accepted on their own terms rather than being constructed as sex objects. Below is an extract from arecent Guardian discussion about lifestyle magazines:

Nicole Kidman is an award-winning actor. So too is Maggie Gyllenhaal. So why do they - and other talented female Hollywood stars - still have to expose their bodies in order to get into the public eye? Kira Cochrane despairs


Kira Cochrane in August 2007 was pleased to see that the Lad's mags especially Loaded suffered a severe downturn in their circulation. She notes that it was magazines like Loaded that rapidly caused GQ to change its policy about naked or near naked women on the front cover. The fact of the matter is that these magazine were very much a backlash against the demands of feminism to be treated as normal humans rather than objects of the male gaze:

So it was at the end of last week, when I read about the problems facing the "lads' mags" sector. ABC circulation figures for the first half of this year painted a bleak picture for those weekly and monthly paeans to beer, birds, cars and football, with a year-on-year sales drop of 25.9 per cent for the market bestseller, FHM, 18.1 per cent for Zoo and 9 per cent for Nuts. But the magazine that recorded the biggest sales plummet, with readers deserting it in droves, was Loaded, which suffered a 35 per cent drop in circulation from the same period last year.

Here are some before Loaded and after Loaded GQ front covers:


First Issue of GQ Cover

The first ever issue of GQ with politician Michael Hesseltine on the cover
1991 GQ Cover with Major
A 1991 GQ cover with Prime Minister John Major

GQ 1999 Cover

GQ 1999 had long since revoked on its promise never to put nude women on its cover


June 2008 Cover

The recent GQ practice does seem to be having near naked intelligent women on the cover, which supports Cochrane's arguments


Web Comments on Lifstyle (notes)


At the end of the day, magazines are about communities of interest, whether professional or lifestyle driven. If magazines keep that driving mantra in mind, and use the Web for all its is worth, things could begin to look brighter and bigger on the monetary side soon. (Magazines Online: A Brief EssayBy Rafat Ali - Sun 09 Sep 2007)


THE teenage lifestyle magazine market is in “serious decline”, with ABC results next week expected to reveal a significant fall in circulation numbers, according to industry sources.

The findings will be released just days after Emap, the media group, closed Sneak, the teenage celebrity gossip magazine, conceding that teenagers were now getting their showbiz news on the internet. Smash Hits magazine was also closed by Emap six months ago after 30 years in business. (August 12, 2006)

ABC Case Study on 89 Magazine


Webliography

Times September 2006 on Men's Weeklies challenging the Monthlies

Cultures of Masculinity Google extract of book by Tim Edwards

Guardian on top Ten Lifestyle mags of 2006

Environment and planning D:  Making Sense of Men's Lifestyle Magazines

BBC launch Pre-Teen Lifestyle Magazine Amy 2006

UK Youth Lifestyle magazines

ABC consumer Lifestyle Magazine Report 2006

Representations of Gender in Lifestyle Magazines

Intelligent Life is the new quarterly magazine offering from The Economist, a lifestyle magazine that, says the accompanying blurb "will be more than just a catalogue of the things for readers to buy". Oops. From Guardian Organgrinder.

Interview: Sarah Joseph, Emel magazine (Evening Standard) Sarah Joseph edits Britain's only Muslim lifestyle magazine. She says it can help show there is more to Islam than prayer and politics. By David Rowan

A2 Media Studies notes on Gender and Magazines


Marketing tosh from brandlab UK about Men's Lifestyle Mags

Green Lifestyle Magazine (Consume in order not to consume? )

Ethnic diversity in UK Media

April 30, 2006 Site test: Havens for busy women

Design Week Mag-Power

'Intelligent Life', an offshoot of the renowned title, aims to be warm, people-centred and philanthropic. Ian Burrell reports.  The Independent September 2007

David Gauntlett, Media, Gender and Identity:An Introduction. Review in Journal of Consumer Culture

Laurei Taylor on consumer culture BBC Thinking Aloud

Bibliography

Benwell Bethan (Ed)  Masculinity and Men's Lifestyle Magazines. Oxford: Blackwell

Horsley Ross.  Men’s Lifestyle Magazines and the Construction of Male Identity. PhD thesis which can be downloaded in its entirety.



March 19, 2008

Secrets of Magazine Cover Design

Post removed by administrator upon request.


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