Thy name is commerce.

Target used to advertise in the New Yorker, but now they own the entire issue. Sort of. The magazine has agreed to sell one whole issue to a single advertiser for the first time in its 80-year history, an "unnerving" trend in the eyes of Design Observer's Michael Bierut:
I counted over 200 Target logos in the first 19 pages alone, and there were still eleven ads left to go when I gave up. The illustrators acquit themselves well: Robert Risko turns in a funny image of a substantial construction worker perched on a typically un-ergonomic modern cafe stool with a single logo on his back-pocket handkerchief; Yoko Shimizu turns in a spirited biker chick crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with the logo rising before her. Best of all is Me Company's vertiginous computer-generated cityscape, the last ad inside the magazine, which surely pushes the logo count well into four figures, if not five.

Although the publisher has publicly stated that the decision to go with a single advertiser had no effect on the magazine's editorial content — as editor David Remnick put it in the New York Times, "Ads are ads" — the inescapable world of Target creates a disorienting context. Every non-Target illustration in the issue looks a little...funny. Indeed, when I saw the large woodcut that Milton Glaser's former partner Seymour Chwast produced to illustrate Gina Ochsner's short story "Thicker Than Water" (two blackbirds with round eyes that sort of reminded me of...never mind), my first thought was: didn't Seymour get the memo? No, and he no doubt didn't get the paycheck, either. Even the cover drawing by Ian Falconer gives one pause: two boys, playing with a beach ball, a round beach ball, a round red and white beach ball...
I suppose it's what Hallmark and Ford have long done with family TV specials. And, heck, Stephen King, Amy Tan and a dozen or so other others just agreed to auction off naming rights for characters in their novels. The difference? The proceeds go to the First Amendment Project.

1 comment:

Jake said...

...the inescapable world of Target creates a disorienting context...

Welcome to life in Minneapolis.