Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sports Illustrated Cover Story, 1954

In an era when sports athletes are celebrities, and tabloids are sometimes indistinguishable from from the sports pages, it is hard to believe that a sailboat race on Long Island Sound would be the cover story for a national sports publication. This 1954 Sports Illustrated issue came long before advertisers and the board of directors played a major role in editing, and terms like target market were not so scientific and strict. Browsing through old issues of Sports Illustrated, I found stories on fishing, canoeing, and scuba diving, alongside stories about Willie Mays and Johnny Unitas. They wrote about all sorts of sporting activities, not just the big dollar spectator sports. This consolidation has been happening for at least 30 years in all forms of media and marketing. But targeting a specific demographic or niche has not provided a more in-depth result. Radio stations for example, have become less and less eclectic, while at the same time narrowing their play lists to a small sample of songs that we hear over and over again. Boating magazines seem to run the same generic articles every year about some tycoon in the Mediterranean. Skiing magazines often ignore the large numbers of skiers who do not board a jet to go skiing. Hiking magazines have taken a page from VH-1, and devote every issue to lists of the "Top Ten Boots" or the "Top Outdoor People On Twitter" (I kid you not). It wasn't my intention but this is starting to sound like a rant. Perhaps it is a sign of getting older, but I constantly feel as if nothing is targeting me. Even in pastimes that I am passionate about, I often feel as if the marketers are ignoring me. In the rare instances when they are not ignoring me, they are trying to convert, rather than cater to me. Does this happen to anyone else? Am I part of a demographic that Madison Avenue views as too much trouble? Maybe I should be careful about what I wish for. I may be disappointed with the role that target audiences play, but that doesn't mean I want to join them. There are benefits to not being targeted, and I think I would be uncomfortable if it were any other way. Sports Illustrated: Cover Archives photo credit: Richard Meek, Sports Illustrated, 9/6/1954


Kim said...

You are not alone and this drives me crazy too!!! I swear the advertisers only care about the demographics of those 30 and younger. Hello! It is usally those over 30 with the higher disposable income to buy things with.

I have given up and use the internet for reading now. I believe this is another direct result of advertisers too focussed on focus groups and not the average Joe or Jane.

Anonymous said...

You're not the only one. I think one of the reasons we're not targeted is we're smart enough to not buy in to marketing hype. We do have the income as kallen305 pointed out, but we're a tougher market. It's just easier to take candy from babies than us.

Kirk Mantay said...

Regardless of age, unless you do not use the TV, internet, or you do not visit stores to purchase goods, your purchase decisions are affected by marketing. It's just DIFFERENT marketing.

The internet has changed things, for the better in my opinion, because you can really research your purchases and get some semblance of an honest opinion.

On the other hand, the internet means that we are now bombarded by marketing more than we have ever been. Remember that marketing includes selection of product names, product placement, and all kinds of stuff that outdoorsy 50-year olds fall for all the time. There are reams of marketing research that show the positive impact of descriptors (differentially) between men and women, and people of different ages. They've got it down to a science.