On February 22, the New York Times breathlessly unveiled its redesigned Sunday magazine. The cover featured a globe in the blackness of space with the tagline “Hello, World.” “A Remade Magazine, Thinking Globally” the paper proclaimed on its front page, emphasizing that the new design would showcase international stories and embody “a renewed spirit of inquiry that is both subversive and sincere.”
Better adjectives, once you’ve slogged through the ads, would be elitist, self-congratulatory and clueless.
The Editor’s Letter gushed about new typefaces and heavier paper stock, and boasted,“You will also find, I am pleased to say, more pages of advertising than in any issue since October 2007” (a line that has since been changed in the online version). Indeed, the magazine is a shopping catalogue for the top .001%. And what message do these advertisers have? Hello rest of the world, we don’t care about you and we don’t have to.
The first 29 pages contain full-page or spread ads for luxury cars, 5-star resorts, wealth management services and condos in Manhattan that only the royal family of Qatar could afford. The first six pages–including three alternate covers–are sponsored by Cadillac, desperate to shrug off its image as the car best used for funerals; Cadillac sales were “terrible” in 2014, USA Today noted, and they “abruptly” fired their ad agency. Presumably this is the work of the new one. The ads are paeans to “the man … in the arena who strives valiantly” and “dare[s] greatly,” the campaign’s new motto.