In an effort to perhaps prove that news magazines aren’t completely irrelevant, Time Magazine has staged a coup of epic proportions by showing a very staged photo of a mother breastfeeding her possibly-too-old-for-breastfeeding child… just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s an exercise in shock marketing, and boy is it working. It’s in your face and it has social media in a tizzy. If you haven’t seen it by now, then you haven’t been on Facebook in the past couple of days.
The question here is how effective will it be for Time? I would imagine they’ll sell a lot of magazines this week – probably more than they’ve sold in a long time. I can’t remember the last issue of Time I bothered to read. For the time being, they will be the talk of the town. But, when the controversy fades, it will be back to square one.
The truth is, the news magazine industry is faltering, and publicity stunts like this will only go so far. It will take more than a shocking photo to keep people’s interest in this attention-deficit media climate. A few weeks ago, we were talking about Newsweek and their tie-in with MadMen. Yet, now, we’ve obviously moved on, and nobody cares about Newsweek anymore. So it goes.
At the end of the day, I have to wonder what Time’s advertisers are thinking about all of this. On the one hand, the magazine is sure to sell and give them exposure. On the other hand, there’s another kind of exposure going on here, and I’m sure there are some readers who will be all too happy to let the advertisers know they’re not happy. Stay tuned, I’m sure there’s more to come.