And with some of them, you wonder just who the target audience is meant to be.
Take, for example, Intersection, an oversized glossy that just released its premiere issue. Clearly, this swanky publication that's attempting to survey what happens when "the road less traveled meets the road ahead" is not looking to interest the Popular Mechanics kind of car nut. Upscale is the operative word here.
The cover itself is a lesson in niche marketing. Rendered in a softly hued but deeply shaded black and white, it utilizes an intense close-up of a beautiful young woman with long blonde hair, a perfectly aquiline nose and full voluptuous lips (just slightly parted in anticipation), her eyes masked by a pair of sizable and stylish dark glasses. The key to the image is the racy car reflected in those glasses. "Keep Your Eyes on the Road" the headline tells us.
Several other articles are highlighted on the cover:
• Michael Stipe invites you to share a taxi;
• Zaha Hadid reinvents carchitecture;
• Road trips - Up the Himalayas vs. around Tehran;
• Highway to heaven - Trucking for Jesus;
• Pope my ride - Custom Vatican cars.
Three writers names are also featured: Douglas Coupland, Barry Pepper and Fat Joe.
It's all very much beyond me, but that doesn't mean perusing its pages wasn't enjoyable. Slickness was another key word. Many of the layouts were great to look at, and spread after spread featuring sports cars of the future was more than just fun.
But like many other magazines these days, Intersection tries intentionally to blur the line between advertising and editorial, which makes certain sections plain baffling for those who don't know a lot about upscale cars.
Another feature of note is that almost every other ad in the first 20 pages of this first issue was a fashion ad, which I understand to be another of the points being made by Intersection. This is clearly the car as accessory, a fashion statement - just like the shoes you wear and the watch you choose. It's a whole look. In the United States, that's like preaching to the converted; we are what we drive.
Not that Intersection doesn't try every once in a while to get serious. The articles on the Himalayas and Tehran are far from what the plugs on the cover would have you believe. The former article is titled "Tar Wars" and its subhead reads: "High in the peaceable mountain land of Ledakh, a band of road builders are [sic] toiling to carve and tar a safer route into the Himalayas." The photography is downright spectacular.
The Tehran article tells how the revolutionaries of 26 years ago appear to have traded in the dream of a theocracy for any set of wheels they can get their hands on. Join the club. u