SHE magazine (please note that there are actually several She magazines, including one for lesbians of South Florida, and one for women of Southeast Wisconsin) is a British magazine “for women who juggle their lives – delivering style and substance, lifestyle solutions, emotional support and inspiration.” Sounds like any other ladymag, right? Well, SHE wants to set themselves apart from the pack: they want to promote marriage! Because it’s endangered, and stuff, and no other women’s magazine talks about it. They recently asked four ad agencies to design a campaign for marriage and then had their readers vote for the one they liked best.
SHE magazine’s website includes a partnership with five other UK magazines: Good Housekeeping, Coast, Country Living, Prima and House Beautiful. They’re all a part of the Hearst Digital Network, and grouped …
…together under the website “All About You” (tagline: “Smart women click here”), creating a conglomerate of all the content these publications produce. SHE is specifically designed “to provide the inside track for busy women online, on everyday important issues like relationships, health, diet, wellbeing, homes and beauty.” The marriage call to arms was featured in the November issue, with readers voting for their favorite in time for the February issue; a woman’s hand, her ring finger (with wedding ring) sticking up out of a fist, mimicking the not-so-nice middle finger gesture. There are several variations on this design, but always one final line: “Married. Because I mean it.” Various taglines include “Don’t want the world to know? I do” and “Don’t want to commit? I do.”
All the agencies approached were told to “make people reappraise marriage as the number of British people marrying drops to its lowest level since 1862. Working together, their start point was that marriage is perceived to be a conventional and traditional behaviour. Their goal was to develop an idea that turns this cliché on its head.” The real goal shows SHE attempting to be edgy within a traditional format. Their sister magazines, specifically Good Housekeeping, Country Living and House Beautiful, all have dropping subscription rates and much older audiences. The CEO of Publicis Dialog, Mike Welsh, said that, “By positioning marriage as an act of rebellion, we feel we can change the conversation and force reappraisal.” This seems like a fairly strong position for both an ad agency, and a women’s magazine to take on an institution that’s probably not going anywhere for the time being. Their motivation is still missing; perhaps it’ll become clear later, but right now, I think many of us are puzzled about SHE.