Log on to the New York Times’ website. In the upper left-hand corner is a “teaser,” or an advertisement that reads “This is the pursuit of tomorrow, this is the pursuit of perfection.” Although this ad was placed by the Lexis car company, it represents the scope of reality that the New York Times puts forth toward its readers. By including high-profile advertisements, artistic and tranquil photographs, and creative graphics, this world-renowned publication appeals to an upper-business class demographic; focusing largely on positivity and emphasizing the arts to a demanding and loyal readership.
Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Bond, Lord & Taylor, and Saks Fifth Avenue all were marketed within the first section of the Sunday, October 3 edition of the New York Times. It is not unusual for designer companies such as these to run ads in fashion magazines or high-profile publications on occasion. The majority of any given demographic could not regularly spend $3,600 on the “rings in 18K white gold, ceramic and diamonds,” as shown in the Chanel ad. They also could not afford the $215 Bond perfume. Yet the New York Times, through its advertisers, continues to market the most luxurious and expensive items on a daily basis. Although the argument can be made that these companies have a very large advertising budget, it is not fiscally-viable to continually spend at least $10,00 (according to the New York Times advertising web page) on a 1/8 page ad. Marketing representatives for these individual companies are experts in their field, and would not allow this money to be spent if it was not beneficial. Although the ideal reader is one who is wealthy, not all are. Again, companies that have the means to place thousand dollar ads on a regular basis, correspondingly have the means to hire experts in the marketing fields to head their campaigns. If these ads were not appealing to their specific demographic, designer brands would not run them so frequently. Drawing on this point, readers of the New York Times, while not all, respond to costly advertising schemes. They inevitably come from wealth if able to habitually support Chanel, Tiffany, and their competition.
So then why run such costly ads? Simply put; the New York Times has a readership that can afford, and continuously purchases, these products – and as a result – are ideal readers that keep them in business through advertising revenue.
The New York Times directs its advertisements toward a high society – or at the very least – a society that is fairly affluent. Because their advertisers target such a specific group, the New York Times puts forth the idea that their readers are part of a more elitist, or socially-aware/forward group. Take the previously mentioned Burberry ad for example. The ad itself is basic; the brand in bold letters, followed by a simple description –“leather lace-up boots with topstitch detailing, $795” – and a store name in the bottom corner. The boots mirror the ad in their simplicity. There is nothing out of the ordinary about them. They do not exceptionally standout. Why would Burberry pay $10,000 (or more) for these basic shoes? Moreover, who would pay almost $800 for boots that they easily could get cheaper from another store? The answer is as simple as both the ad and the boots; audiences purchase the brand, and can afford to.
Buying the brand assumes that one understands the connotations and views that go hand-in-hand with its perception. Burberry is a very well-known fashion icon, and those who wear their clothes are often thought to be among a fashionably select few. Many readers, and members of the public, would love to have a Burberry coat, purse, boots, or even a scarf, but could never afford such items. The New York Times does not portray its readers, through any sort of graphic, in everyday and average clothes. No. Instead they show them adorned in designer clothes – a representation of an elitist and idyllic subset of society.
This subset is not just reflected within the advertisements of the New York Times, but also within their photography. Often times, newspapers show the “nitty gritty” of daily life. They tend to delve more into the effects and stories of average citizens doing various things within their given communities. The photographs reflect these stories. They often demonstrate the story that goes along with it; with little artistic creativity. The New York Times takes a different approach. Their photographs, even with “daily-life” stories, tend to be more imaginative than local publications. To use an up-to-date example, compare the main photograph of The New York Times, and that of the local Chicago Tribune. The Times shows an elderly baseball coach who has helped several young players make it to the major leagues. Although this photograph is technically a “mug shot,” it is taken from an unusual angle which takes on a creative approach. The Tribune displays an “unfinished foundation,” and is taken directly above the subject. The photo is of poor quality, and the resolution is too large for the website, creating a blurry effect. There is a staggering difference between the qualities of these photographs.
The New York Times not only portrays “ordinary” individuals in a creative light, but also includes highly artistic photographs in every edition. Every section has shots unlike any other publication. The photographs do not merely add a visual to the accompanying story; they create discussion and thought within themselves. So then why are these stunning and appealing photographs necessary and so highly prevalent? Readers who understand the appeal to designer brands, also understand the attraction and intention of artistic photography. It is unfair to say that those who do not fall under the category of “upper-class” do not like or appreciate the artistic components of such photography. Yet, and as the New York Times demonstrates, those who are more involved in high society, tend to welcome and take note of these photographs.
The Times is a well-established publication. Being so, they know what content their readership looks for, likes, and depends on. These photos can take up to a half of a page, which, as stated from advertising, is expensive real-estate. Readers depend on the New York Times to provide them with this artwork, and many value this component when continually subscribing, supporting, and renewing their publication. If readers did not demand an artistic approach, the company (that is in a declining print-market) would have changed their layout; eliminating, or greatly reducing the size of these particular photographs.
Artwork and photography portray the world in a tranquil and content state. The media, as a whole, is constantly saying that America is not doing well for various reasons. The economy is down, and our country is in a vast recession. Most newspapers cover stories of families who have managed to cut back in these times. Often there are stories of men/women who have been laid off from their jobs, and who have had to come up with various means to provide for their families. Although these articles are included in the New York Times’ coverage, they do not tend to be the focal point. Instead, and as previously mentioned, sections contain large and expressive photographs that show the simplicity of situation.
Why would the New York Times maintain their arty components if they were not wanted by their readers? Why would their readers be less concerned with the economy, and more contented with art? An answer that is applicable to a high majority of the Times’ readership is minimally that they are less, or not at all, concerned with their personal wealth or the economy. If in a time of recession, one can easily afford $800 boots, they are not preoccupied on the state of their finances. Those who do not constantly monitor or watch the economy because of personal stability will more often take an interest in the arts. As the New York Times incorporates art and photographs into its publication on a daily basis, it appeals to its ideal and typical readers; those of the upper-middle, or upper-class.
The New York Times prides itself in being the newspaper known for providing “all the news that’s fit to print.” This publication would not have gained its high praise and credibility if it did not cover issues spanning a broad and diverse spectrum. They deal with topics ranging from the war in Iraq, to military problems involving China, to American’s poor eating and dietary habits, to theater reviews, and sports recaps. Yet when looking at their advertisers, photographs, and graphics, it becomes quite evident that they render a certain perception of reality, and with that, have a certain and ideal demographic/reader. The ever-present inclusion of designer advertisements proves that the New York Times’ readers purchase, and are a target audience of expensive amenities. Photographs that show an artistic interpretation of the world, and that highlight the wants of an idyllic society prove that readership of this publication takes, and maybe more importantly has, time to focus on wants, and not needs as a result of financial stability. Thus the New York Times takes on a perception of reality that its readers have less to be preoccupied with, and their ideal reader is someone who fits this category by being personally monetarily wealthy.