Lifestyle magazines case study booklet


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Lifestyle magazines case study booklet

  1. 1. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and RepresentationsAS MEDIA STUDIESMorecambe Community High SchoolMS1: Responses and RepresentationsMagazine Case Study This case study will focus on two magazines that you will refer to as case studies in the summer exam, so keep it safe. Additional material for this unit can be found on the MCHS Media Blog as well as the shared area on the network. The emergence of men’s lifestyle magazines • Magazines have always been popular with men. The problem is that the publications were somewhat divided between niche market ‘specialist’ publications such as What Car, Hobby Electronics or Angling Times ‘Top shelf’ pornography magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse and Men Only • There was no ‘general interests’ magazine to parallel the numerous ‘women’s’ titles • Although a gap in the market was evident to publishers, the ‘glossy’ magazine was considered feminine, and ‘real men’ didn’t need a magazine to tell them how to live.A brief history of male lifestyle magazines1980 The Face, i-D and Blitz are launched featuring fashion, design and musicfor trendy young men and women 1
  2. 2. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations1986 Arena is launched by The Face editor Nick Logan for ‘the slightly olderstyle-conscious men’.1988 GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) launched featuring expensive but stylish livingand fashion1991 Esquire launched into a market which was seen as catering for ‘poshblokes and advertising executives’.1994 Loaded launched and has since become recognised as the cornerstone formodern British ‘lad’ culture and established an infamous readership of twenty-something, beer-drinking, football-loving, sex obsessed male stereotype.1995 Maxim & Men’s Health launched1996 FHM launched with an emphasis on sex and humourBy 2000, market researchers Mintel reported that the UK men’s magazine markethad grown to ten times its 1993 size and had begun to open a significant marketin the USTASKWhat are your perceptions of male lifestyle magazines?Make a short list of other ‘Lifestyle’ magazines.TASKLog on to the Media blog and look at the post on ‘Top 100 Magazines 2010’.Which of these are lifestyle magazines aimed at women? Comment on theirpopularity/sales and compare these to other magazines on the market.Magazine advertising and genderBefore any discussion of gender in lifestyle magazines can be considered, it isimportant to be clear on the difference between sex, gender and sexuality.• Sex refers to a person’s biological sex: whether they are male or female.• Gender refers to the role or behaviours a person has been socialised intoaccording to their sex, whether they are masculine or feminine.• Sexuality refers to a person’s sexual preference: whether they areheterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.The issue of gender is not static. Acceptable behaviour for each sex changesover time. Contemporary ideas of masculinity and femininity will be different tothose of previous generations. For example, your grandmother would probablynot, enter a pub alone and order a pint of beer, whereas young women todaymay well do just that. 2
  3. 3. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and RepresentationsIn our society there are certain attributes and behaviours which are seen to bemore appropriate for one sex than the other. The following opposing listsillustrate how men and women are seen to be different:MEN are / should be: WOMEN are / should be:masculine femininedominant submissivestrong weakaggressive passiveintelligent intuitiverational emotional communicative (talk aboutactive (do things) things)emptyMen and women are also seen to like different things. Forexample:MEN like WOMEN likecars / technology shopping / make upgetting drunk social drinking with friendscasual sex with many partners committed relationshipsThere are several other likes and attributes you can probably think of that arestereotypically male or female. However, it is also clear that these neat lists arenot truly representative of what men and women are really like. You all probablyknow a woman who likes cars and can be aggressive or a man who doesn’t drinkand cries at weepy romantic comedies.These stereotypes exist, to a certain extent, because they are easier than gettingto know every man and women in the world personally. Advertisers areespecially prone to using stereotypes to sell products for the same reason. Theyassume that all women or men are similar to make targeting audiences a simplerprocess.We can use advertising as a starting point when considering representations ofgender in lifestyle magazines. By looking at how alcohol and food are sold tomale and female audiences it is clear to see how gender stereotypes areemployed and perpetuated by advertisers.The gender stereotypes used in magazine of advertising make assumptionsabout men and women that may or may not be true. They are likely to be true of 3
  4. 4. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representationssome men and some women but there will be very few people who fully conformto the magazine’s neatly packaged feminine woman and masculine man.Readers today are more sophisticated than ever before and are likely to beaware that not all of a magazine’s content does relates to their lives and likes.‘Postmodern’ readers may well take parts from several magazines to create amix and match magazine that is perfect for them. For example, a young man maychoose whether to read Loaded or Maxim according to the cover star, subscribeto Four Four Two and sneak a look at his mum’s Women’s Own; a young womanmay enjoy the serious articles in Marie Claire but ignore the fashion, subscribe toTotal Film and sneak a look at her brother’s Bizarre. Both readers are conformingto parts of the gender stereotypes presented to them but are also moving outsideof them.In order to effectively study gender or any other demographic such as race orclass, generalisations need to be made about people who are all differentindividuals. In the case of gender in lifestyle magazines we can conclude thatmagazines target their audience according to gender in order to appeal to aspecific audience that is still broad enough to ensure high sales, to ensurecontinued readership and to attract certain advertisers by being able toguarantees a certain ‘type’ of reader.In doing this the magazines are using gender stereotypes but also perpetuatingthem. Consider the following questions:• Is it nature or nurture that makes young women want to wear make-upand young men want to drink and fight?• To what extent does the content of magazines like those mentioned hereencourage men and women in their choices?Lifestyle MagazinesImelda Whelan (2000) argues that magazines like FHM, Loaded and Maxim: • Are an attempt to override the message of feminism • promote a ‘laddish’ world where women are sex objects • dismiss changes in gender roles with an ‘ironic’ jokeShe goes on to say that‘it is impossible to ignore the growth of this image and its depiction ofmasculinity…its prevalence offers a timely warning to any woman who felt thatgender relations were now freely negotiable’When looking at lifestyle magazines it is essential that we consider what attractsa consumer to the product.TASK 4
  5. 5. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations • Apply Whelan’s comments a cover of FHM. • In regards to Cosmopolitan, how might we go about applying Whelan’s? To what extent does the magazine reinforce patriarchal representations of women?Text 1: FHMFHM is a men’s ‘Lifestyle’ magazine. Lifestyle magazines literally offer theirreaders a certain ‘lifestyle’; in other words a model to base their lives: what towear, eat, drink, how to spend their leisure time, where to go on holiday, whatkind of car they should drive, where they should live etc. To do this successfully,magazines need to be able to make their readers identify with the lifestyle onoffer, but at the same time offer them slightly more than they have. Themagazines offer both guidance and aspiration. The way this works for successfulmagazines is to have a clear sense of the target audience and to adopt anappropriate mode of address.What kind of lifestyle is FHM trying to promote?All lifestyle magazines are trying to make a profit by ‘selling’ particular types ofaudiences to advertisers. The revenue, which lifestyle magazines get fromadvertising, is far more important than the income they receive from the coverprice and individual sales. As new magazines come on to the market they are 5
  6. 6. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representationsincreasingly trying to narrow down the market (narrowcasting) and provideadvertisers with more and more detailed reader ‘profiles’.What concerns advertisers is reaching their target audience, i.e. those peoplemost likely to buy the product. Demographics are very important, i.e. the socialprofile of the audience in terms of class, gender, age etc. The audiences with themost disposable incomes are more attractive to advertisers; these people tend tobe younger and more middle-class. Advertisers are less interested in oldworking-class people with small disposable incomes.Explain the target audience for FHM. Look through the magazine and write adetailed profile of the FHM reader, include age, income, social class, interestsand hobbies, hopes and aspirations etc.FHM Content analysis‘FHM understood how men communicate, and principally that’s throughhumour…In a group of men there’s no-one more respected than the funniest guy.Whatever men are like on the outside, on the inside we’re just a seething mass ofinsecurities and we are simply unable to do things in the house very well.’Mike Soutar, Editor of FHM, 1999TASKLook though the contents pages of FHMWhich features communicate to the reader in the way that Soutarsuggests?Which features highlight insecurities?How do the advertisements fit into the suggested ‘lifestyles’ of themagazine?Gender in Lifestyle MagazinesTheoryEdwards (1997) suggests that the primary role of men’s magazines is to • Encourage and perpetuate spending amongst its readers • Emphasise consumption as a means to join a new style elite • Make this need more desirable through high-profile advertising and visual attention paid to commoditiesTHEREFORE, masculinity can be defined in terms of commodities, leadingultimately to masculinity being defined in terms of how one looks and not whatone does.You are a man through what you buy!Nixon argues that within fashion photography, new codings of masculinity can beseen. • Menswear is seen primarily in terms of utility i.e. a product with a function 6
  7. 7. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations • The suit symbolises masculine sexuality as well being a uniform of masculinity • Women are used as objects for men to look at which highlights the ‘laddish’ masculinity of the male • Although some models may look introspective, vulnerable and even feminine, the image is regarded as masculineTask • Choose three advertisements from FHM and apply Edwards theory using your notes. • Apply Nixon’s theory of coding to the same advertisementsKey terminology for discussing audience and representationHegemony: The theory that those in power maintain domination through culturalinfluences rather than force.Ideology: A set of ideas, or a world view, which produces partial and selectiveversions of reality often to protect the interests of the powerful social groups.Preferred Meaning/Reading: The ways in which texts are constructed toencourage the reader towards a dominant or consensual interpretation.Hypodermic needle Model: A theory which asserts that the media are powerfulagents of influence, capable of ‘injecting’ ideas and behaviour directly intorelatively passive audiences.Task: • Apply each one of these theories to examples in a magazineEncoding/Decoding (Stuart Hall & David Morely): Audiences vary in theirresponse to media messages because of social position, gender, age, ethnicity,occupation, beliefs etc.TASK • Discuss the different readings of a lifestyle magazine. • What is your reading of this magazine?The GuardianMonday February 10, 2003Lads on topDawn Hayes 7
  8. 8. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and RepresentationsMarcus Rich, managing director of FHM Worldwide, is talking about the BabeLaidphenomenon, or so I think. In fact, hes comparing the Beyblade spinning topcraze of Christmas with the lads magazine market. The point is that all crazesresult in oversampling, followed by a settling down period where demand fallsoff.Lads magazines, which powered growth for consumer magazine publishers inthe1990s, have reached the settling down stage. Sales and circulations havespiralled downwards at an alarming rate in the past year or two. But those whohave already written this young markets obituary will be eating their wordsthis week. ABC figures to be published on Thursday are expected to show thatFHMs circulation has bounced back up to 610,000 from a low-point of 570,000 ayear ago. Loaded, too, will show a modest improvement.FHMs circulation is still far from its 775,000 peak in 1999, and the longevityof its revival is in question, given expectations that this year will be theworst yet for advertising-led media. But FHM has come a long way since TomMoloney, now chief executive of Emap, and Rich were the only people at thecompany who believed that men secretly flicked through womens magazines,especially the problem pages, and would therefore be likely to buy a lifestylemagazine of their own.Their hunch was right. FHM followed Loaded into the market, with a diet ofbabes, bizarre fare and other blokeish topics. But FHM proved to be the biggercommercial success. Emaps £1m punt on buying For Him Magazine in 1994spawned a 8
  9. 9. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representationsbusiness that is now turning over £100m and reaches more men per capita thananyother magazine in the world.Now a division in its own right at Emap, FHM sells 1.5m copies in 16 countries;Emap plans to launch the magazine in Thailand and Indonesia this year and is intalks to do the same in Japan and Korea.But things looked decidedly less positive when Rich returned to the UK last yearafter launching FHM in the US and Australia. The title looked stale. "Whereeditors are successful, I find they start writing for themselves," said Rich."The surprise element was gone. It was a bit copy-heavy and out of touch withthe populist view." The magazines circulation began tanking in 2001, along withthose of its rivals, and the media decided that time had been called for the newlad of the mid-1990s.Rich appointed a new editor, David Davies, and between them they drew up aplanto restore the magazines fortunes. Davies, a stalwart of Emaps youthmagazines, steered the monthly away from features on topics such as loftconversions, part of an attempt to hold on to its original readership as it grewolder. Instead, he reverted to the short, sweet, punchy approach fortwentysomething single men with money to burn.Rich decided each issue should also have a distinct theme. There wasDecembers"lingerie" issue, which came packaged in a fishnet bag, Junes "pub-in-a-bag"issue, and the "High Street Honeys" campaign, which generated a website that isin danger of making money."The improvement may be a slight blip, but this kind of value-added will have 9
  10. 10. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representationsbolstered circulation for FHM and for the sector as a whole," says PeterWilliams, press manager at Zenith Optimedia. "Mens magazines are still anintegral part of any campaign trying to target 16- to 34-year- old men."Rich insists that mens magazines have no more had their day thanCosmopolitanhas in the womens market. "In any mature market, the packaging is as muchpartof the offer as the magazine itself," he says. "These mens lifestyle magazinesare an essential handbook for single guys, and as relevant as Cosmo or Red areto women."He and Davies believe, though, that some of the smaller titles in the field willfold as the advertising downturn hits home. "We are closing in on 45% of thetotal mens market," says Davies. "Apart from FHM and Arena, mens magazineshave changed very little in the past year and, in a market that is showing signsof staleness and predictability, they are paying the price in this round ofABCs." Fighting talk indeed. But can FHM and the lads magazine market ingeneral sustain a revival?With advertising in the doldrums, Emap is banking on brand extension for growth.As the rise in cover prices that propelled sales growth through the past decadehas run out of steam and its acquisition of US publisher Petersen proved a flop,it needs to find ways to keep shareholders happy."Where growth comes from in future is the biggest problem facing publishers atthe moment," says Tim Ewington, a founding director of the specialist mediaconsultancy, Human Capital. "The advertising market has to grow rapidly to growat all because consumer magazines are getting an increasingly small slice of a 10
  11. 11. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representationsbigger media cake."Beyond Elles fashion range, there are few successful examples of brandextension in consumer magazines, but Emap is in good company. Leveragingthesame asset in as many ways as possible is the name of the game in the mediamarket as a whole, as epitomised by companies like Disney. FHM has alreadycreated Bikini Heaven, a TV series, and High Street Surely itstandsthe best chance among its peers of developing the first lads theme park.TEXT 2 COSMOPOLITANCOVER ANALYSIS OF MAGAZINESTASKAnalyse the cover page of the magazine. • Remember that the cover is an advert for the magazine itself as well as for products dealt with inside. • What does the photograph tell us? Is it offering an ideal image of femininity / masculinity? • What camera angle and shot size have been used been used? Why? 11
  12. 12. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations • How are the models posed and why? What connotations does the clothing offer? • What is the connotation of the colour used? • How does the language used anchor the meaning of the image? • What is the mode of address of the cover lines? • Are there any innovative design features? • What sort of reader is the cover addressing? E.g. singe, married, progressive/regressive views? • What issues does the titles highlight about the target readers’ main concerns? Do they play on feelings of inadequacy and anxieties? Is there a promise of pleasure or fulfillment if we buy?TASKAnswer the following question in 750-1000 wordsHow do magazines target their readership by gender? Refer to specificexamples you have studied.This question is asking you to consider the role of gender in producingmagazines; to consider how magazines use gender roles and stereotypes toappeal to their readership; and how audiences respond to and are affected bythe representations of gender within magazines.You will need to give specific examples from Cosmopolitan and FHM • What is the purpose of FHM? 12
  13. 13. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations • Give some facts about FHM. Is their formula successful? • Give some examples of how gender is represented in FHM. Key idea here is to consider the range of representations in the magazine and the use of stereotypes. Why does FHM (or indeed any media) use stereotypes? • Having established that using gender representations is a key factor in targeting and appealing to a readership you can then go on to discuss the way gender is portrayed in FHM and in other magazines in more detail. This is when you can introduce different readings or interpretations of the magazine, and if you have not already done so bring in theory. • What does Cosmopolitan offer to its readership? • Explain how Cosmopolitan gives both progressive and regressive views on how women are represented. •Possible inclusions: • FHM as a progressive force; advice magazine, offering different lifestyles and possibilities to its readership. FHM offers a more modern take on traditional male identity – advertising and editorial that focuses on appearance clearly shows this. • Link between what you read and identity. How much does FHM play a role in defining people’s gender identities? Does FHM create male or ‘lad’ subcultures? • Negative aspects of representation; does a magazine like FHM just offer men fantasy and tradition in its use of dominant male/willing female? • Masculinity in crisis: to what extent are FHM using gender representations as a kind of backlash against feminism and the erosion of traditional male identity? • Images of women in Cosmopolitan encourage women to appear pleasing to the ‘male gaze’. • Cosmopolitan offers its readers a progressive representation of women and encourages them to challenge traditional patriarchal ideologies.Specific theorists that may be useful; 13
  14. 14. MCHS AS MEDIA STUDIES MS1: Responses and Representations • Edwards – crucial in this essay as he sees the primary purpose of men’s magazines as selling. Is this why men’s mags target by gender?Ultimately you need to decide why gender is used. There are sociological andconsumer reasons – debate them.Revision questions1. What is the difference between a ‘new man’ and a ‘new lad’?2. What is a ‘new woman’?3. Define ‘laddism’ and the role that the ‘lad’s mag’ plays in this sub-culture.4. What is feminism?5. Compare one other male lifestyle magazine to FHM. What are the differencesand similarities?6. Why might we argue that magazines like FHM are more than just‘pornography’?7. Men’s lifestyle magazines are said to highlight male insecurities. What ismeant by this?8. Edwards highlights the importance of consuming as a means to join a ‘newstyle elite’. What is meant by this?9. How does Cosmo challenge traditional patriarchal views of women?10. How might Cosmo be seen to be ‘failing’ to fully challenge traditionalstereotypes and not truly represent feminism? 14