Cosmo For Guys? That's What We Call a (Brand) Stretch.
August 3, 2011 ‐ 1 comment
Two days ago Cosmopolitan magazine launched a new magazine for the iPad called Cosmo for Guys, or CFG for short.

Now appealing to the baser instincts of both sexes

Yes, our mouths are hanging wide open as well, and not because of the exquisite subtlety with which they're promoting the new publication... Is there any brand that is more unequivocally identified with the female gender than Cosmopolitan? Doesn't the mental image of a man buying a Cosmo-branded product or service look a little bit like this?

  Cosmo: Clever Like a Fox? Maybe Cosmo thinks that women who appreciate the periodical's redoubtable reputation for salacious sagacity will do the buying, gifting the app to the men in their lives? Except that the data we've seen indicates twice as many men as women use iPads, and women prefer to purchase magazines on e-readers than tablets. Or maybe they're trying to create confusion between CFG and similarly-named, similarly understated lad's mag FHM?

  Not a Fatal Mistake, but a Missed Opportunity Here's our beef with CFG. It's not that it's going to ruin the Cosmopolitan brand - no matter how many or how few men start reading the publication, Cosmopolitan's reputation as a recycler publisher of sex "secrets" is impregnable. Our problem is that it's a business mistake, because while you're busy trying to convince men that Cosmo isn't just something to read while they're in their sister's/girlfriend's/friend's mom's bathroom, it gives both current and new competitors more time to capture a greater share of the market. It's also a misunderstanding of the target's mindset. When men do read Cosmopolitan, they do so precisely because it's intended for women. They're getting a glimpse behind the curtain, which means the chance to learn something secret and valuable. When the magazine is intended for men – even when the content is written by women – that sense of exclusivity is gone. It's similar to our questions about Dove's Dove Men+Care line:
We don't doubt Unilever's claim that 51% of men use women's skin care products. But, again, we think they do so because they are women's products. How could a product intended for a man ever get his skin as soft as a product intended for someone who actually cares about how soft her skin is? We get that Cosmo and Dove are strong brands, and we know that it's less expensive to extend a brand than to create a new one from scratch. But if it's not the right way to position and sell your product, it might be a very costly error.   P.S. Here's the video that's being used to promote CFG. Judging by the amount of coverage the video's getting despite how boring it is, we're guessing Hearst Magazines is pulling in favors left, right and center.
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1 Comments >>
Jesse de Agustin
1
August 3, 2011 10:15 am
Excellent post on the importance of keeping brand crisp, clear and committed to core values. I agree that the exclusivity of guys reading the original Cosmo Magazine will go down - even though it might not hurt the brand, it doesn't do much to help it and propel it forward. This reminds me of an example that I often cite - Abercrombie & Fitch would never directly market TO "college students" as a collective group. They rather craft a brand that evokes a reaction from their target group. Same idea with Dove - the Dove brand extension might risk coming across as too familiar to the Dove brand. (Typically marketed to women) I think there's an interesting similarity between Dove and A&F's former Ruehl 925. I discussed that here (Paragraph 5) http://metabrandblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/preserving-the-brand-the-nature-of-identity-over-time-part-3/ Jesse
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