Get automatic updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Connect with Steve Sipress


Cover Controversy

OJ covers Time Newsweek

Last week I wrote about the latest non-stop “must-see-TV” red-alert news story that’s been on everyone’s mind at least for the past couple of weeks, from the chronically unemployed welfare recipient all the way up to the President of the United States.

Predictably, my controversial view of that controversial killing of a Florida teenager inspired some passionate responses.

Then, a few days after my post was published, another controversial story took over “the news” and prompted a comment on my blog that actually forms the basis of this week’s post.

Boston native Chris Canzano referred to the Boston Marathon bomber, asking me…

So on that basis of being controversial you would then agree with Rolling Stone for putting a terrorist on the cover of their magazine and making him look like a rock god?

A very interesting question indeed. Thank you, Chris.

I’ll give you my response.

But first a little background…

I lived in Boston and the surrounding area for 17 years, and still have many close friends and family members there with whom I keep in touch on a regular basis.

During my 17 years in Boston, I made a point of going to view the Marathon in person many times, once even choosing as my door-to-door sales territory the race route itself, including an intersection less than a mile away from the finish line.

One of my best friends from my days in Boston told me soon after the bombing that he frequents the bar where one of the blasts occurred, and is very close to several of people who were injured by the terrorist brothers.

And yes, I get a little tinge of homesickness every year on Marathon Monday (held each year on a Massachusetts-only holiday known as Patriot’s Day). That’s an extremely special day for Bostonians, making it extra revolting that the terrorist brothers chose that particular day to launch their cowardly attack.

That’s why it should be no surprise to anyone that I am personally disgusted by the decision of Rolling Stone magazine’s editors/owners/whomever to glamorize the surviving Boston Bomber on their recent cover and in the accompanying story.

I discovered this video on YouTube, where television host Greg Gutfeld expressed my viewpoint well:


Gutfeld, I and many others are clearly not in Rolling Stone’s target market. There is no chance that we will purchase or read the ultra-liberal magazine.

That’s why Rolling Stone’s editors/owners/whomever are right to not care at all what we think.

I’ve heard that for some sick reason, incredible as it sounds, the Boston Bomber is some kind of cult hero and heartthrob among young liberals. Those people happen to be right smack dab in the middle of the magazine’s target market – a fact the magazine’s leadership capitalized on with their recent cover photo and story.

Does Rolling Stone’s leadership care that they glorified and possibly encouraged terrorism?

Do they care that they outraged conservatives?

Do they care that they alienated and infuriated millions of Bostonians?

No, no and no.

Their cover did exactly what a magazine cover is supposed to do: Captured attention, catered to the worldview of the magazine’s core following and, by the way, sold a lot of issues.

And in this day and age, when newspapers and magazines are watching their circulation figures and advertising revenue spiral down into oblivion, editors and publishers are more focused than ever on making bold moves in an attempt to make big things happen.

This brings us to the strategy that all business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals need to use for maximum effectiveness:

If you want to people to notice you, you have to be willing to take strong, controversial stands.

As Phil Brakefield commented in response to my post from last week:

Took me awhile to catch on to the power and advisability of taking strong, controversial stands (especially when they fly in the face of big corporate dogma), but doing so is now a HUGE part of my marketing persona and is one of the things folks say they like about me!

Way to go, Phil!

Now what about YOU?

Have you made this a big part of your own marketing efforts? You certainly don’t have to – the overwhelming majority of people (including business leaders) choose not to take any daring, strong positions, and are therefore content to remain among the vast mediocrity of forgettable people (and companies).

It is my sincere wish for you, dear reader, to give this powerful strategy a try. Get to know your target market extremely well, and then take a strong position that will rally your audience to your side and repel those who are not your customers anyway.

You certainly don’t have to wait until you’re desperate and/or your entire industry is on the brink of extinction.

Have you expressed any such strong viewpoints? If so, I’d love to read about it in a comment below (and if you have a good reason why you feel you shouldn’t be controversial, I’d love to read about that, too).

6 Responses to Cover Controversy

  1. Phil Brakefield Reply

    July 24, 2013 at 6:20 am

    LOVE the new format, Steve.

    As far as taking strong stances, I’ve got a dilly for ya’.

    I have a customer I’ve been serving/working with for 40 years. Over the course of the last ten years or so, I have watched a cadre of new management guys move a once-great company far afield from its roots, so much so that “smartest guy in the room” arrogance finally resulted in the company totally forgetting who its real customers are.

    I started challenging the new direction early on in the process, and kept at it until the corporate guys decided they would be better-served without my presence. What they couldn’t trump was my relationship with their true customers (sounding familiar yet?) and my business with those folks is stronger than ever!

    Recently, the company hired a new ad agency whose young turk leader is being hailed as a visionary because he wants to change the focus of their marketing to “warm fuzzy”…all about how customers should be treated. (EXACTLY what I was telling them for ten years).

    The huge irony is that the new guys STILL don’t know who their true customers are, and they are now telling those true customers how to treat THEIR customers, while completely eschewing the opportunity to put the new gospel to work themselves.

    As my friend Forrest Gump said…”Stupid is as stupid does, and that’s all I got to say about that”.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      July 24, 2013 at 6:34 am

      Thanks, Phil. I’m glad you love this new blog — and just wait ’til you start getting your daily dose of fun, entertaining and powerful content I have lined up for you from some of the very, very best and brightest business-building minds in the world.

      And congratulations on building and maintaining those super-strong relationships with your clients. Looks like both of us now have experience dealing with arrogant corporate executives who just don’t get it.

      (a) No wonder our nation’s overall economy has been a total disaster, with no end in sight; and

      (b) That’s great news for you vs. anyone who would try to compete with you — especially including these empty-headed corporate types.

      Run, Phil, Run!

  2. Ace Reply

    July 24, 2013 at 7:12 am

    “head rhino…”
    LOVE IT!
    Steve, the thing that you don’t mention in this post (but you have said many times) is that there are clearly “leaders” and “followers.”
    Most follow.
    I’ve always been the one to stand firm.
    I take stands.
    I lead.
    It has cost me jobs, “friends” and “likes” out here….
    But I don’t care. Those aren’t important.
    Success and my principles are.
    I watched FOUR companies spiral to oblivion for the same reasons as Phil(and you were there for the biggest) . Completely unrelated in product, service, etc, and all because when someone DID take a stand, the company didn’t care.
    You once told me:
    No one resents “average” people. .
    “Nobodies” don’t make headlines.

    And you couldn’t have been more right!

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      July 24, 2013 at 8:03 am

      I’ve said a lot of things to a lot of people, Ace.

      You are one of the few who has taken MASSIVE ACTION, and therefore experienced MASSIVE RESULTS.

      And I know the best is yet to come for you…

  3. Chris Reply

    July 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    First: Congrats on your new BLOG! Hope you have a server powerful enough to handle the traffic. Everyone should be reading your thoughts!

    Now, to carry on with this topic: Being controversial I agree with! Reckless behavior that runs the risk of creating copycats should not be condoned or tolerated though. What Rolling Stone did in my opinion was glorify the tragedy and only encourage others to do something as ridiculous to see if they too can get on the cover of Rolling Stone. It’s the same reason the T.V. stations do not report on suicides. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of people committing suicide and the publicity of them.

    Not to miss the point of your topic, too many businesses run bland, boring me too marketing. They will never break out and achieve the success they really want. Taking a stand and being controversial or going against the norm is definitely a great way to separate your business from others and get noticed. I only encourage people to do it in a way that won’t lead to copy cats who want to kill others.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      July 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      I agree with you 100%, Chris. However, (a) I know that the editors/publishers/owners/whomever of Rolling Stone couldn’t give a damn what we think, and (b) Who knows how their financials look, and just how desperate they are to stay in business? Magazines are dropping like flies these days, and in their case they seem to have decided that “Desperate times call for despicable measures”.

      And thanks for the props on the new blog. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *