This cover came out in tandem with a New York Times story about how Cosmopolitan’s new editor — Jessica Pels, who helmed the digital edition for 10 months before getting the keys to the whole house — is grappling with, as the subhead put it, “trying to save the magazine from the jaws of Instagram.”
It’s an intriguing piece, painting a vivid picture of the ways the magazine industry is scrambling to make social media an asset and not a competitor, and it also gets into the hows and whys of this cover:
Ms. Pels stressed that the cover-line language shouldn’t be too sexy because Ms. Shahidi is just 19 and Mr. Melton is nearly a decade older. She wanted to avoid doing the film’s marketing by presenting them as a couple with chemistry. Moreover, in real life Mr. Melton is dating Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica on “Riverdale.”
“We don’t want to lean out of that, we want the Cami-stans to want to pick it up,” one editor piped in.
And (the links are to our coverage of the referenced covers):
Back in the day, Cosmo covers were known for the wind-machined coifs, contoured cheekbones and plunging cleavage. The next era brought fewer models and more actresses, standing against a solid-color backdrop.
Ms. Pels […] wanted the covers to look more like Instagram photos. So she has data pulled that identifies “top -performing Instagrams,” which then inspire Cosmo photo shoots. As it happens, heart-shaped pizza is popular on Insta. As are vintage metallic blue cars. As are bathtubs, which can be seen in the background of Ms. Condor’s photo spread. “We’re using Instagram to back into our planning print shoots,” Ms. Pels said.
I am not convinced by the wisdom of making your magazine look like social media, but they’re at least doing what they said they would: This does look like a selfie, and they do not look like they have chemistry or might be dating, so… mission accomplished?