Esquire’s Innovate or Die Covers

- - Magazines, Multimedia

Esquire editor David Granger must have an innovate or die policy with his cover creation. Awhile back they started stuffing the coverlines behind the subject to give it a 3-d effect (which I think is brilliant), but now they’ve gone on and done flashing E-Ink, cover flap mini mag advertisement, perforated/tearable and now shot one with the new RedONE high def video camera. The cover of Megan Fox was shot by Greg Williams and you can see on his website he’s the multi-talented photographer/director these cameras exist for (here).

This is what Esquire has to say about the shoot (from their site here):

Greg Williams recorded ten minutes of loosely scripted footage with Fox — getting out of bed, rolling around on a pool chair, inexplicably lighting a barbecue.

“It allowed her to act,” Williams says. “She could run scenes without being reminded by the sound of a shutter every four seconds that I was taking a picture. As in still photography, a lot of it is capturing unexpected moments. This takes that one step further.” He then went back and pulled out the best images, which you can see in Esquire’s June issue, on sale May 10. Plus, there’s a fantastic by-product: Even though we made the film to get the stills, we were left with ten bewitching minutes of footage of a beautiful woman. We edited it down to a mini movie, which will be available at esquire.com/megan on May 4.

megan1megan2megan2halfmegan3

I think it’s working. The covers are creating buzz and along the way they will inevitably stumble upon something innovative for magazine covers. The RedONE may be it but not because I think people want to watch a 10 min. video of someone posing for a cover. Something interesting will come out of this, maybe they can create cool animated cover badges from all the frames around the shot to spread around the web or maybe it just changes the way subjects and photographers work together for cover shoots. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’d rather see them try something and fail than endlessly plodding along with “57 fat burning secrets.”

Saw it on Gizmodo, forwarded to me by Peter.

There Are 37 Comments On This Article.

  1. It’s good to see a major title believing in the consumer’s power to turn the tide for such a failing industry. I, for one, applaud Granger for taking these chances in the spirit of reader-driven success. Maybe more Rick-Moranis-in-”Head-Office”-types at other titles will take notice.

    Damn, I love that magazine…

  2. ‘It’s good to see a major title believing in the consumer’s power to turn the tide for such a failing industry. ‘

    You made soya milk come out my nose that’s so funny.

    • @Julie,
      Just remember, it takes a few days to turn a tanker around and a few miles to stop a freight train.

      And why are you drinking soya milk? Those two words don’t naturally go together…

      • @STONER, I know, they squeeze the baby soya beans until they cry, then call it milk so the middle class (me) can feel comfy.

          • @STONER, if only I were following others or they were following me. That would be nice. But the best of the print magazine industry seems suicidally attached to print, which is only slowing the transition and making it more painful.

            • @Mike Hartley,
              See, what I mean by “sheep” is this: don’t fall for all the fatalist crap from everyone wringing their hands waiting for the collapse of the magazine industry. It ain’t gonna happen.

              The “best of the magazine industry” are busy making magazines that will last and last and last. The magazines that can be replaced by a better website, will be.

              It’s not really a transition as much as it is a correction…

              • @STONER, I am afraid I am an one of the instigators of the fatalist crap. How many mags will be left in print? A few yes. I still buy vinyl. Maybe not even a few. But the mainstay of glossy publishing will be online and the lack of good print people investing themselves in online means the whole thing might just break rather than transition or ‘correct’. We may lose the support of the advertisers, the notion that a magazine ad (print or online) is a good buy. It is already happening.

                • @Mike Hartley,
                  Ah, well you’ve touched on the root of the issue and this is where it comes back around to Esquire: ad revenue is there, as long as a title is willing and able to deliver a wide variety of innovative added value and prove demo/circ.

                  Your “best of the…industry” know how to do that. How many of them are spread across the industry? I don’t know, but I think we’re seeing Darwinian effects now.

                  There’s still no direct replacement for the power of a print ad, but I think the crux of this is that alot of magazine people don’t know how to harness it in the way advertisers need them to before they bail out.

                  Just for the record: traditional print advertisers are not making a wholesale or exclusive move to online. Advertising is down all over the media spectrum, obviously, and online advertising has its host of qualitative/quantitative issues…

                  • @STONER, I agree, print could do better and some print magazines will continue to exist and advertising is declining all round (against a backdrop of moving online). But I say again, magazines’ biggest problem is a failure to invest in, celebrate and recreate that ad unit online, to recreate their format online. My point regards Esquire is that for all their innovation and best practice, their cover story only makes sense in context of technological advancement and being able to experience both the still and the video. The last video I watched in print didn’t move or make a noise. So it is at least both online and print for the best of print, and really in the end, mostly online.

                    Online needs’ prints help. Print is being stand-offish. The loser, the magazine format (print or online).

                    • @Mike Hartley,
                      Online isn’t the answer – a broad, yet focused menu of added value is. Sure, many print guys don’t know how to make their brand work online (and they need to learn), but a successful ad revenue stream needs to be made of events, broadcast, partnerships, product…brand-supporting stuff and online is just one of those components. If the magazine offers new and innovative ways for the advertiser to interact with their audience, they succeed.

                      Funny – I’ve recently seen a few folks who started websites now trying to add some sort of print magazine version of them…

                    • @STONER, I agree online is not the answer. It is not a silver bullet. I also think many publications that consider themselves online-only would be well served to have a print component. However, I still think translation of the glossy editorial/ad experience to online is the most important issue for the future of magazines and the best of print are ignoring it.

                      It makes me sad, perhaps even angry, that this is the case and that print publishers have seen online as competition rather than opportunity and as a result have not led any innovation in translating the experience online. Print has even strategically opposed it.

                      Apologies for my opening comment and many thanks because I am enjoying our discussion. Also we’re going to have to agree soon because this box is getting very narrow.

                    • @Mike Hartley,
                      Ever see what Vice magazine has done with VBS?

                      http://www.vbs.tv/

                      This is a good example of how a message in a print vehicle can be expounded upon online. Their advertisers are now offered a whole host of opportunities to reach the Vice audience in all kinds of impactful ways.

                      Another good example is Make magazine:

                      http://makezine.com/

                      This is another magazine that’s able to bring their strong print presence to the web in a compelling way – ways that can’t be realized in print alone. BUT, these guys also do an event called Maker’s Fair and other things so that the audience can talk to each other and Make can use the idea of “crowdsourcing” to create a rich environment for advertisers and partners. Good stuff.

                      These are only two examples, but good examples nonetheless. The best of the industry are paying attention, Mike. And I say, let the thing get narrow!

                    • @STONER, Whilst they may be great extensions of those print magazines’ business model, neither are translations of the glossy content/ad mix of the print magazine format I am discussing.

                      Neither do anything to reinforce magazines’ ability to deliver an ad unit online that matches the power of the ad unit in print. I think this weakens the position of magazines in the advertising mix brands have at their disposal. It makes other media more appealing.

                    • @Mike Hartley,
                      This is where my ad sales hat is donned: I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is EXACTLY what advertisers have been asking for and demanding from me when I knock on their door with my magazine in hand. If I could offer them what VBS offers Vice (for example), my overall buy would add a digit, at least.

                      The power of the ad unit in print isn’t being questioned by my advertisers – they just know that they can (and should) ask for ways to add value to the buy. Combined, this type of buy is extremely attractive to my advertisers and everyone is happy.

                      I think what you might be missing on this, Mike, is that there’s no direct translation from print to online. Since both mediums are good at doing different things for a brand, they have to be treated differently, while being able to deliver the same message across mediums. Harley-Davidson is a good example of this: their new campaign is buying alot of print, but they just spent some good money with Vice doing some really innovative things online – neither of which would happen exclusive of each other. H-D knows that their money is only well-spent by doing both. And I could envision H-D looking at this Esquire thing and seeing some real possibilities there…

                    • @STONER, Well, we’re back to square one with this:

                      ‘I think what you might be missing on this, Mike, is that there’s no direct translation from print to online’

                      And this is because … ? You are an ostrich?

                    • @Mike Hartley,
                      Haha! You might be right, Mike…Sheep!

                      In all seriousness, though, there’s room for your ‘online glossy’ and great print magazines in this new media world. And advertisers that know how to spend smart money are going to look at titles who can master both.

                      I applaud Esquire for making innovative strides to capture revenue from these advertisers – the title is doing more than any other in its category to embrace this fast-changing media arena and the market will decide how well Granger is doing, but I’ll make an analogy…

                      It’s like ExxonMobil embracing green technology: it’s very hard for a huge, old ship to change its course in time to miss the iceberg when no crew member could see it through the fog.

  3. Great marketing strategy. I have seen a similar thing done on “Woman” mangazine in Europe. Much more interactive an interesting to watch then just plain normal frontpage stuff. You can’t help but go around and look for different frontpages in the streets.

    Best Regards Yuri Arcurs – The World’s Top Selling Stock Photographer

  4. Cool.
    You can see a very very short snippet of the footage on Greg’s website under “Moving Photos (Motos)” as well as some other cuts from Bond.
    Very cool actually.

  5. A few years ago I predicted stills would disappear into film, with screen grabs being where new stills came from. And I’ll be damned, here it is, already.

    Cool.

  6. The RedONE camera is a mighty interesting piece of equipment, and is certainly one of the steppingstones towards a “stills/moving image” convergence (to use an already overused word). Greg Williams did a great job of working with the Red AND working with its limitations to create two distinct (though related) forms of media. I suspect that Mr. Williams is the sort of person who looks at a piece of equipment’s faults and limitations and then says to himself: “Hmmmm… How can I make this work towards my advantage…”

    We’ll certainly be seeing more and more “converged” (damn, I hate that word) media in magazines, movies, and — of course — the internet. And with the upcoming release of the various Scarlet and EPIC cameras, the dividing line between still imagery and moving imagery will become more and more blurred — all while the images themselves become sharper and sharper.

    Matt

  7. Say It Ain't So

    If cameras like the RedONE become increasingly popular to do photo shoots, will photographers go away?

    I mean … what would stop a magazine (or any print pub/ad agency for that matter) from buying a super-video camera and plopping a intern behind it to hit record? Then go and pull out a screengrab?

    I’m NOT saying this will happen … but couldn’t happen? Is this the beginning of the end for still photographers? Would photographers really then become producers?

    I dunno.

    Just throwing it out there.

    • @Say It Ain’t So,
      There is more to being a great photographer than just pressing a button, especially when working with a camera like the RED.
      This argument was constantly put forth when the industry transitioned from film to digital. While digi certainly has made the profession more accessible it hasn’t changed the fact that there are great photographers and there are terrible photographers.
      If anything, photographers shooting on the RED will become akin to photo editors because it takes HOURS to pull the best stills from a minimal amount of footage.

  8. I am highly suspect of the quality of the images. I don’t think it can hold a flame to a real still… even with high res the were most likely shooting at 30p. Even at 100p they are going to get soft images.

    I think this is a gimmick that wont last.

    Last thing I want is to loose work from a client because they are just going to pull still from what their videographers got.
    The new scarlet and epic cameras wont replace what canon, nikon, leaf, phase one have to offer.
    I have yet to see a video camera operate well at high iso, getting quality lenses means the use of clunky adapters and quirky focus.

  9. Why not just shoot 70mm motion picture film and have a way better negative to work with? The cost is about the same for 10 minutes.

    The back end of this idea is not new. It’s the web front end that is exciting.

  10. quoting Williams: “As in still photography, a lot of it is capturing unexpected moments. This takes that one step further.”

    Wow, they sure did find an unexpected moment with those choice of images. Wow, so unexpected to have her crouched on a white cyc wall, with her hands on her legs, and then have her run her hands over her rear end.

    Do all female actresses have to submit to reducing themselves to sex objects in order to receive recognition? Isn’t it a bit humiliating, really?

    I’d file this story under “Hype”. You shoot the same standard celeb magazine cover, on white, as any other month, but because it’s a frame grab, it’s revolutionary? Aren’t we missing the big picture here?

    • @Reader, That’s what I thought, it looks like every other celeb cover. They shot all those frames and that was the best “unexpected moment” they could come up with?

  11. @Matthew G. Monroe: You get it. Can we try to imagine a better digital HD/moving picture camera in 5-10 years that beats the current quality of medium format digital backs? Then will this concept still not work? I’m not confident the technology will get there very soon but it’s definitely food for thought.

    Covers and features are already being run with unsharp focus and awful lighting, while few seem to notice. Quality almost doesn’t matter now days anyway, so that argument is perhaps null and void. Anything that’s easier and shaves zeros on the bottom line will always take control.

    @Say It Ain’t So: Some photographers are going to have to go away. There are too many to sustain the industry.

    @Reader: Megan Fox is one the most beautiful women on the planet. Men don’t care what she does as long as they are allowed to look. This cover will sell, even in this “bad recession”. Is that the ‘big picture’ you were referring to? :)

  12. rob – no idea if you read all the comments, but just a quick typo:

    “innovate of die”

    I think you mean:

    “innovate OR die”

    cheers, ce