Sunday, June 11, 2006

Magazine Ads

You can tell a lot about a magazine's audience by the ads that appears in the back. For example, if the ads are all for $1.5 million homes in the Hamptons, you're probably reading the New York Times magazine, where the advertisers expect to reach a significant number of people who have a lot of money and are interested in that sort of conspicuous consumption.

So it was with interest that I looked at the ads in the back of the Sierra Club's magazine, which I just started receiving after joining a month ago. There are six pages in the back that are full of little ads. Some are for a variety of different products -- organic coffee, hammocks, portable water purifiers, etc.

There is one ad for "easy-to-ride bikes" that allow you to "live green." This advertiser obviously expected to reach people who are conscious about carbon emissions and who are potentially willing to make a change in their personal lifestyles.

But by far, most of the ads were for tours to exotic locations -- e.g., Antarctica, Peru, New Zealand, the Galapagos, the Alps, Malaysia, Tibet, and many more. I counted no fewer than 31 such ads in the six pages at the back of the magazine. In addition, the Sierra Club itself included a ten-page section listing probably 100+ Club-sponsored trips all around the world -- from backpacking in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to hiking in Nepal to a safari in Tanzania. Both the advertisers and the Sierra Club obviously expect to reach a lot of readers who have a good bit of disposable income, the time to travel around the world for weeks at a time, and the willingness to participate in huge amounts of carbon emissions. (I'm assuming that no one is going to paddle a canoe to New Zealand to go hiking there, nor will they swim to the Galapagos with a bicycle strapped to their backs.)

It's an interesting contrast with the bicycle ad.

UPDATE: Another interesting contrast is with Back Home Magazine, to which I also subscribe. The magazine's website has a picture of the current issue, so you can get an idea of the kinds of articles it has. All of the ads are for things like gardening and farming resources, composting toilets, windmills for generating your own electricity, and the like. I could be missing something, but I can't find a single ad in that magazine that is aimed at a jet-setting adventuring crowd.


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