Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do you find this magazine cover offensive?

Or do you think it is a clever way to tell a story about the merger of two major airline companies in the US?

When Bloomberg Businessweek used this composite image on the cover of its February 6 issue with the headline "Let's Get It On", it probably did not figure on the virulent reaction from some readers.

Here are some of the "negative" letters the magazine printed in the February 16 issue:
  • Offensive … displeasing … distasteful … indecent … abominable … obscene … objectionable … that’s what I have to say about your Feb. 6-12 cover. You should be ashamed.
  • I think you have a sharp magazine with good writing, making what is (for me) a boring subject — business — actually interesting and understandable. But I object to your Feb. 6-12 cover, the one with a Continental plane “getting it on” with a United plane. Couldn’t you have made a point about an airline merger without descending into base sexual imagery?
  • Your Feb. 6-12 cover page was in extremely poor taste. You made it even worse with the headline “Let’s Get It On.” Surely you could have described the business events going on between Continental and United in a better fashion, and not by showing two planes having sex with each other on the cover of an important business magazine.
  • Get It On, Love Built to Last, Friends with Benefits, Exchange Vows, Home Run: Your cover page is so subtle it should have a condom over the dominant top plane (should be United) and a diaphragm shield inside the tail of the submissive bottom one (should be Continental). You will lose several subscriptions over portraying the sacred marriage of two companies as just a long mile-high f – – k. Who was the genius who sent this around legal without thinking? For April 1, maybe, but not right after the holy days!

Of course, there was some positive reaction, too:
  • Got to love last week’s cover: A Continental plane mounting a United plane with the caption, “Let’s Get It On”! On the same page, you talk about Facebook having “friends with benefits.” It shows that business has great humor. LMAO! Framing this cover. Thanks.
For the record, I did not even think this cover had anything to do with sexual imagery. One reason for that might be because I did not get the significance of the headline accompanying the image (did you?). "Let's Get It On" seemed to indicate to me that it was time to party, now that the world's largest airline had been formed. And without a second thought I turned the cover page and began reading the magazine. It's only when I read the letters in the February 16 issue that I did the mental equivalent of a double take.

You can read the other letters here: Feedback.

Also read: "Good ideas and good writing need to be backed up by good design".


  1. The cover is crass and cheap. It fails to portray the gravity and effect of the merge but what it does succeeded in is making a caricature of the entire issue.

  2. Despite getting the connection, I don't find the cover offensive as such. I think people should just stop taking everything so personally and start taking things lightly and enjoying the humour. It definitely doesn't undermine the seriousness about economics behind the merger. In fact I think it is creative.

  3. I did not find the cover page offensive, because I too did not get the significance of the headline accompanying the image at the first go. But even after understanding the context, I think it is an innovative way to drive home the point about the merger. Especially coming from a business magazine, I really appreciate the humour. Moreover, it has grabbed audience attention, and that's why it serves the purpose.

    As it is said - Publicity, be it good or bad is always welcome! So whether people crticize it or appreciate it, it is good for the magazine. And what's the point of having a boring image on a magazine cover that might be in good taste, but fails to grab eye balls?


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