essentials magazine sounded the call: it was looking for cover models who weren’t models. The search for amazing ‘real ‘women was on. Two months later and the magazine has not one, but 10 gorgeous women featured across the gatefold cover. Not only that, but essentials announced a bold move: it would no longer be featuring celebrities or models on its cover. The message? Ordinary women are beautiful.
TheMediaOnline caught up with essentials editor, Darren-Jay Hart and asked him what inspired the brave decision.
“Yes this may be seen as a bold move; however this campaign is just a natural progression for a magazine that has always put its reader at the heart of its content. The whole idea is to celebrate real South African women and give them a platform to prove that, somewhere in-between balancing work, family life and everything else that comes with being a ‘millennium mom’, aspiration is achievable!” he said.
He doesn’t believe the decision will impact on advertisers negatively. “No I don’t! Advertisers know that real women are the real experts and without them their products would never sell,” Hart said. “From the feedback we receive, our clients are looking for new and innovative ways to connect with readers and this campaign is a unique way for them to do just that.”
A national competition was a brilliant way to find cover stars. The trick is to keep them coming. Hart said finding women to grace their covers will not be a problem.
“The You are Amazing! competition was launched in two parts – the first was to find the 10 June cover stars and the second is to find future cover stars. Candidates are required to submit two photographs plus a short paragraph motivating why they deserve to be our next cover star. It’s really that simple!”
Modelling comes with its own set of challenges. Some lovely women are stiff and uncomfortable in front of the probing lens of a camera. But Hart said they’ve hedged their bets by shortlisting six women for every cover.
“Then meet with them to select the final three candidates who go on to the cover shoot. By this stage, we are pretty confident with the selection and go the extra mile to make these women feel comfortable and content during the shoot,” he explained.
She said the magazine is not looking for “aspiring models or skinny women”. The cover start has to be “believable” yet “aspirational”.
“This attitude is not confined to shape or size. Of course, we will not choose women who don’t take care of themselves as we’re still that ‘glam but practical women’s magazine’ competing in a very unpredictable market,” said Hart.
Talking about the bottom line, could this move save money on the costs of professional models? Sadly not!
“Not necessarily, as we have to fly readers from all over South Africa to Johannesburg for the cover shoots. This initiative invites our readers to become ambassadors for the essentials brand so we will do whatever it takes to make sure we select women who reflect its values and personality,” Hart said.
This Your are Amazing campaign was first executed by essentials’ sister publication in the UK. “It’s success inspired us to follow suit. As far as I know, we are the first women’s magazine to have launched this calibre of competition in South Africa.”
What are you looking for in a cover girl/woman? “Everything that an essentials cover star should be: pretty but friendly, style-aware but not a slave to trends… In other words, the girl next door with a bit of gloss!” said Hart. “Each cover star will have their story featured inside the mag, and some may be photographed in our fashion shoots every alternate month.”
Finally, what is essentials magazine at heart? “essentials is a general interest title that targets middle-income women between the ages of 28 and 45.
The magazine is categorised as a ‘practical glossy’, which means that we take a trend, be it food, fashion, beauty or health, and package them in a stylish but easy-to-achieve format.
“The magazine is full of fast, easy tips and step-by-step solutions that help the reader simplify her life so that she can devote her energy and time to things that matter. On top of a demanding social life, the essentials reader is juggling work and family so time really is her biggest luxury. We believe that our reader is a new-traditionalist, which means she has a modern outlook but still sees her family and friends as pivotal to her enjoyment of life. “
essentials’ online presence: