THE AGE OF FREE PORN
We live in an age of free porn on the Internet and any magazines should keep this in mind when they are thinking about publishing photos of sexy women to attract readers.
Penthouse went out of business at one point trying to chase the Internet in terms of erotic content. Playboy is no longer publishing nudes. With no many explicit photos and videos available to anyone of any age with a computer for no cost, why should readers pay for magazines just to look at women in bikinis or sexy outfits?
This comes to mind because I just saw a fitness/bodybuilding magazine with a layout featuring mild, conventional images of a generic model in a bikini. Unfortunately, in terms of sales this is just wasted space and opportunity. Some readers might enjoy these photos but very few would ever buy the magazine to be able to take those own these pictures and take them home. And with magazine publishing under such stress for a variety of reasons, every single page possible of every issue should be targeted at selling additional copies.
THE POWER OF FIT/FAB FEMALES
So what kind of photos of women might achieve this purpose when it comes to the fitness/bodybuilding industry? To begin with, you need women who look like what i call “fit and fabulous” – women who obviously train and diet the way the readers of the magazines do and use the products being sold by the advertisers. Women with aesthetically developed and defined muscles. There are 10s of thousands of these Supermodels of the 21st Century who look great and are available to help sell magazines.
And these women have millions of avid fans, followers and supporters – all of whom are a potential audience for magazines that feature fit/fab females as part of their content.
EMPHASIZING MUSCLE AND DEFINITION
A second criteria is to publish photos of these women that focus on and calls attention to the sculptural beauty and definition of their athletic bodies. Too often you see women with aesthetically muscular physiques being presented in a way that minimizes these qualities rather than emphasizing them. Trying to present these women in photos designed to make them look more like conventional, less-muscular models is a mistake. Their real audience is not attracted to this and a mainstream audience that prefers women with less athletic bodies is not fooled.
When you have a brand you need to focus on that identity and promote it as much as possible.
Another consideration is celebrity. We live in a culture that worships and responds to fame. At a time when magazines are all having trouble, publications that feature celebrities like People are doing fine. In the past, Joe Weider used his magazines to make a lot of bodybuilders famous – from Dave Draper and Arnold Schwarzenegger to women like Rachel McLish, Cory Everson and Sharon Bruneau. The magazines don’t often make this effort nowadays. But the Internet does. Check out Google and you’ll find a lot more pages focusing on women with muscular bodies than men. And you’ll find some fit/fab women with more than a million followers and quite a number whose followers number in the hundreds of thousands.
If you feature some of these women in a magazine and have them tell their friends, and fans on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to buy copies, you end up with a million or more targeting sales promos going out over the Web. You get this publicity essentially for free – and ironically you are taking advantage the same electronic system to sell magazines that has been working to limit the sale of print publications.
PRINT LOOKS BETTER
Another thing to consider is that photos published in print can look much better than those viewed as pixels on a screen (at least until computer monitors and tablet screens are considerably upgraded). You don’t have to have magazines “turned on” or connected to anything. You can carry them around in a brief case or back pack and refer to them on trains or plans or in restaurants or a doctor’s office. Magazines still have a convenience that electronic devices do not.
But this only makes sense as long at the content of magazines is as strong and effective as possible.
MUST SEE PHOTOS
Increased magazine sales depend to a large extent on including “must see” photos and “must read” articles, in the words of legendary magazine editor Tina Brown. Uninteresting or “filler” content are not going to do the job. Magazines have to make the effort to make their all of their pages so compelling that readers will be very disappointing if they happen to miss an issue.
So this means no more “girlie” photos in fitness/bodybuilding magazines but instead high quality, artistic photos of fit and fabulous females designed to call attention to the sculptural beauty of their bodies – which is the thing that sets them apart and makes them so special and worthy of the attention of readers and fans.
In the digital age we are inundated with “pretty good” photos shot in electronic cameras. These all just get lost in the noise. Art directors should ask themselves where a magazine cover would make a successful poster, something fans would want to display on their walls and look at every day. They should consider whether photos they publish are strong enough to be exhibited in museums or art galleries. They should carefully think about whether the images they are planning to print are the absolutely best possible photos available.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The bottom line is that the magazines and the industry should concentrate on making the best of these women as famous as possible as well as capitalizing as much as possible on the popularity of those who already have such large and devoted fans and followers. At present there are no magazines that include very much content – and many with none of this content at all – which is aimed at attracting a readership that includes either the women or those who admire and support them.
But if you want to sell as many fitness/bodybuilding magazines as possible it should be obvious that including content that includes really striking fit and fabulous women, focusing the the ones with the greatest degree of celebrity and working hard to make as many more as famous as possible has got to be a winning strategy.
BILL DOBBINS PHOTOGRAPHY