PEOPLE Magazine has named Julia Roberts the World’s Most Beautiful Woman 2017. Last year it was Jennifer Aniston. The year before it was Sandra Bullock. So it’s been three America’s Sweethearts in a row. Interesting strategy. Did you read Claudia Rosenbaum’s piece in Buzzfeed yesterday? The title: The Once Mighty Celebrity Tabloids Face An Uncertain Future: “The Glory Days Are Over”. If you are a student of gossip, this is course material. For years PEOPLE and US Weekly competed over celebrity exclusives. As you know, US Weekly is no longer the US Weekly we’ve come to know, now that the magazine has been acquired by AMI, the company that owns The National Enquirer and STAR and OK! Magazine. PEOPLE Magazine is also currently for sale and has dramatically cut staff after dwindling circulation numbers. Newsstands sales have been steadily declining for years.
In the article, PEOPLE insists that it can stay competitive with the online gossip market and that they have a strategy in place to survive. The annual World’s Most Beautiful feature is one of their most popular, maybe not necessarily in sales but certainly in buzz. If you spend any time today online you will not be able to avoid Julia Roberts being named this year’s Most Beautiful. Clearly then, if we’re analysing PEOPLE’s survival strategy, they still believe that the Movie Star, the America’s Sweetheart, is part of that game plan. Which means they still believe in the Movie Star, period. Interesting because part of the reason why the “tabloids face an uncertain future” is because of social media and immediate online consumption. What social media and the internet have created too are instant celebrities. Millennials arguably care more about YouTube stars you may never have heard of than Julia or Sandra or Jennifer. So, on the one hand, you could say that PEOPLE, with their America’s Sweetheart strategy, is kinda proving why they’re behind the curve. Or… you could argue that they’re leaning into the old school thing, firmly staying in their lane, like a classic steakhouse that refuses to modernise their original menu. Keeps your current customers happy, but does it attract any new ones? What happens when your old customers die off?