Along with the usual styling pieces–appropriate this celebrity look, try this shampoo, etc.–hair seems to be on the minds of a lot of editors, and thus readers, this month if my magazine subscriptions are anything to go by. The most common topics are coloring hair and handling thinning hair, but other familiar issues crop up too.
O, the Oprah Magazine: Common hair concerns are addressed in a special tear-out (and single advertiser) section billed as the best of beauty editor Val Monroe’s columns–and in her April column as well. These include going gray gracefully, dealing with thinning hair, and avoiding frizz. O’s April issue also includes a one-page story about Oprah’s longtime stylist, who just happens to be launching a line of keratin hair care products.
Redbook magazine: April’s “Q & Triple A” column offers insight on thinning hair from a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, and a stylist. A bar across the bottom of the one-page monthly column suggests potentially helpful products.
Good Housekeeping magazine: The blurb on the April cover doesn’t come out and say it, but the story is all about colored hair, specifically preserving color–apparently water is the biggest problem–and keeping color-treated hair shiny.
More magazine: The “7 Hair Secrets You’ll Wish You’d Heard Years Ago” blurbed on the April cover include ways to protect color, along with tips for adding body to fine hair. A selection of products is also included. Meanwhile, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know the seven secrets: They seem to be tweaked all the time.
Martha Stewart Living: A special beauty section in the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine includes three pages devoted to hair care. The opening lines speak nothing but the truth: Those of us with curly hair want it straighter, while those with straight hair want curls. The styling products and gear were selected to help readers work with–and thus learn to love–their hair’s texture and tendencies.
I remember exactly where I was on July 29, 1981. I was glued to the television the entire day, watching the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and related programming with my grandmother, starting at around 5 a.m. Where will I be on April 29 of this year? Glued to the TV for the royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, of course, though I’ll probably sleep in this time around.
While I’ll try to avoid the most tasteless or otherwise mind-numbing programming offered–and I will certainly stay away from commentary by people who don’t have a clue about protocol or history–I can’t help but read any little tidbit that comes via my magazine subscriptions.
Just today I was looking through the table of contents in Good Housekeeping magazine‘s April issue and saw a photo of the ring, along with a page number. Just a photo of that giant sapphire rimmed with diamonds was enough to send me skimming the table of contents for the related story. Finding nothing to correspond with the page number, I then skimmed Good Housekeeping’s detailed index.
By the way, you have to love a magazine that has a table of contents and an index.
Anyway, I found the story in the index and only then did I turn to “The Royal Wedding” by the numbers, part of the monthly “buzz” pages. Hurrah, stats about the wedding, including the weight of the famous blue sapphire (18 carats) and the price of a knockoff offered on QVC ($39.54) and info on that previous royal wedding I found so entrancing.
One number fact missing from the story: a comparison of the engagement ring’s worth when Princess Diana first wore it to the estimated value of it today ($398,000).
Advertorials generally have a bad reputation–with writers and editors if not readers–because they often so blatantly blur the line between a magazine’s editorial content, with its implications of objectivity, and advertising. When ads, promotions, special advertising sections and the like are clearly labeled or identifiable as such, the concept is considered less disturbing and more acceptable. But sometimes advertorials are undeniably interesting, clever and/or well-designed–especially when they are good tie-ins with a magazine’s editorial focus.
Here’s a look at three advertorials you might come across in your April magazine subscriptions.
Echoing Editorial: An April advertorial in Money magazine isn’t as, shall we say, sneaky as some. Printed on a slightly slicker stock and with a flap, this ad for Discover marketing services looks like an ordinary ad. Lift the flap, however, and you find a brief story about a career second act–which ties in with the monthly “Second Act” story on the facing left-hand page.
Pretty Pictures: Now this is an example of classic advertorial positioning. A colorful two-page spread in Elle Decor magazine, with a full-page photo of a room on the left side and a beautifully simple grid of smaller photographs on the right. (One hint that this is not editorial is that in Elle Decor, as in many magazines, only a select few stories in the middle of the issue open on double-spreads or right-hand pages.) This feature for Farrow & Ball paints includes photographs of a selection of classic pitchers and cups painted in Farrow & Ball colors instead of traditional ceramic glazes. It’s a striking and elegant piece of work.
Style Secrets: A traditional full-page ad leads into a two-page advertorial spread in Redbook magazine‘s April issue. The ad showcases Pantene products for four hair types that were tested on Redbook readers. Quotes from the readers, descriptions of the products’ uses and a styling tip from a Pantene “celebrity stylist” round out the editorial, while models whose hair color and wardrobe match the products’ packaging illustrate the four hair types.
Concerns about radiation contamination following damage to some of Japan’s nuclear plants from this month’s tsunami and earthquake have many of us thinking about the meltdown at Chernobyl back in April 1986. That accident was one for the ages and magazines tracked the Chernobyl nuclear cloud as it made its way across Europe.
In April’s More magazine, adventure and travel journalist Holly Morris visits Chernobyl to look in on a group of old women who have returned to their home villages located as close to the official “Exclusion Zone” as anyone would want to get. Morris kept a dosimeter with her at all times to measure radiation and followed the strict warning to avoid eating local food while in the villages.
That wasn’t necessarily an easy piece of advice to follow, because the women Morris interviewed are a steely group of babushkas who pride themselves on their homegrown vegetables and pigs and the traditional dishes they make from them.
Morris’ story is a well-written, poignant look at the disaster through the lives of these women who refused to stay away from their Ukrainian homes, despite the risks. The story also discusses, however obliquely, how the breakdown of the Soviet Union–and corruption and malfeasance before that–led to the mishandling of the Chernobyl meltdown.
Meanwhile, Morris’ Ukraine episode of “Globe Trekker,” seen in the U.S. on public television, also airs in April.
File this under cool things we need to see more of in magazines: House Beautiful magazine‘s “Paint Palette” column.
In March, the one-page feature suggested pinks, corals and blushes pulled from a bouquet of flowers; in April the colors are drawn from a 1946 abstract painting by Sonia Delaunay. The gist of the piece is to encourage readers to explore unconventional combinations of color as Delaunay did in her composition of nested circles and semicircles.
As in the March piece, the April story is illustrated with overhead views of paint cans along with the source image.
What makes the piece even more interesting and innovative is that it references an exhibition of Delaunay’s work currently on view at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Many magazines mention exhibitions, movies and books (the Dalaunay exhibition is also mentioned in Elle Decor magazine’s April issue and on Harper’s Bazaar magazine’s March “Hot List,”); showing how readers can use those culture hits as inspiration for their daily lives adds another level of engagement to the mix.
It’s springtime and gardening features are cropping up all over magazines, including the April issue of my This Old House magazine subscription. Though there is not one mention of gardening on the magazine’s subscriber cover, this issue is chock-full of gardening stories and features, with ideas for both outdoor and indoor green thumbs.
Here’s some of what you’ll find:
- Quick Bits: Drilling drainage holes in various containers, keeping plants moist using sponges, dealing with allergens plus a few more quick tips.
- Stones Rock: As in faux stone containers highlighted in the April “shopping” feature.
- Gardening up Top: Is a sedum-covered roof the way to go? Could be, if you want to keep cool and reduce energy bills.
- Sitting Pretty: Instructions for building an arbor bench and a comparison of two Adirondack chairs help readers furnish outdoor spaces.