Messages Used To Sell Magazines Essay, Research Paper
The flood of emotions that engulf parents when contemplating their newborn child is overwhelming to say the least. These emotions center on the hopes and dreams the parent has for the child; fears of known and unknown dangers that may threaten the precious new life; and personal insecurities about parenting skills and expertise. Thrust into a new and unfamiliar role as important as the raising of the next generation, many parents feel vulnerable and a bit out of control. Parents, a national magazine designed for parents, understands these feelings well and they use this knowledge to sell magazines.
The vulnerability created in new parents when high hopes are mixed with feelings of helplessness and impending doom is key in keeping subscription rates high for the magazine, which, according to the publisher?s advertising, is read by 12 million parents every month. Promising that each issue is filled with advice & support from doctors, educators and parenting experts, readers are drawn into the pages filled with informative articles and advertisements. From these pages, readers seek to gain information that will transform them into exceptional parents; make their children healthy, brilliant and emotionally secure; and protect the family unit from danger.
In examining the magazine, I found that the ads and articles frequently used fear to draw in readers. In some cases, the message implied by the words and graphics was a straightforward ?beware!? Other times the fear message came through the back door with an emphasis on providing children with security.
An example of the direct fear tactic is an ad for GoodNites Pull-ups (disposable absorbent underpants). This ad does everything but come right out and say that without this product, a child will almost certainly be emotionally damaged. The color of the page is a gloomy blue-gray, with the pictures and lettering in black and white. Just looking at the colors of the ad made me feel sad. In the center of the page in bold, half-inch white letters, outlined in black and gray (this is, in fact, the largest print in the ad), are the words, ? If only his self-esteem were as easy to salvage as his sheets.?
The ad contains two pictures. In a small photo at the bottom of the page is a simple image of a package of GoodNites. The larger photo at the top of the page tells the cruel story of the trauma experienced by a child with a bed-wetting problem. The picture, in fact, is heartbreaking. Central in the photo is a small boy sleeping on a bare rag rug on the floor by his bed. He is only partially covered by a bath towel. To the right are his discarded wet pajamas. To the left is the bed with a large round wet spot at its center. Sunlight is beginning to come in through the window, so the reader is alerted to the impending shame the child will feel when greeted by his family in the morning. The pictures are formatted to somewhat bleed into the surrounding gray shading. To me it imposed a kind of water-spilled look on the photos.
The text is equally mellow-dramatic, with statements about a child?s fear of being alone and rejected by peers. The happy ending of the text is, of course, offered when GoodNites enter the picture. Mothers are told that GoodNites will allow them to give their child ?a better night?s rest,? and ?greatly improve how he feels about himself in the morning.? With that build-up, how could any parent neglect to provide disposable absorbent underpants for their child?
An example of the more subtle, ?security? tactic is found in a six-page foldout ad for the Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Upon first glance at this ad, I felt like I was looking at an illustrated nursery rhyme rather than an add describing a motor vehicle composed of chrome, glass, and steel. As a reader turns the page, the scene is obviously a child?s bedroom. At the child?s-eye-view provided by camera-art technique, a nursery-design wallpaper of moons and stars is lit up by the warm glow of a night-light in the shape of a toy version of the Chrysler minivan. Opening the flaps of this double-page foldout reveals a photograph of the actual minivan with all of its safety features detailed in print with labeled insets. In hopes that the buyer will pick up on the vibes of the safety and cozy comfort of this minivan, the Chrysler Corporation has designed a display projects the image of a child?s nursery with text that describes actual safety features of the product. As a night light provides, not only a sense of safety for a young child, but indeed, enough light to prevent injuries should the little one get out of bed for a stroll in the dark, so the ad conveys the sense of safety plus a written description of the automobile?s features designed to protect passengers in case of an accident. Chrysler would have the reader believe that a parent who buys this minivan, helps his/her children to feel safe and cozy, while actually riding in a safe vehicle. This, of course, leads to the fact that the buyer is a truly nurturing, protective and caring parent. I found this to be effective tool in manipulating a parent?s emotions.
While reading Parents I concluded that, not only did the ads play on the parents fears, but the articles did as well. Some interesting titles included ?Are there guns in the house?? ?Are you making the grade??, ?My Baby was Nearly Strangled by My Hair?, ?Fever Facts and Fears?, and ?Information Overload?. Many of the articles emphasized the multiple hazards of child rearing. Parenting seems to bring up feelings of guilt that make parents question theirselves. Parents magazine does a great job of manipulating these feelings for its own economic success.