Working at a weekly news magazine, I know firsthand how hard it is to create a memorable cover from week to week. There are many moving targets you have to navigate throughout the week—often a story develops from an unpredictable news cycle, and the narrative of the story itself changes while it’s being written. Of course, our job as art directors is to create an image that tells the narrative of a story in one compelling and memorable visual that, if done well, actually serves as a time capsule. And bonus points if that visual also encompasses the zeitgeist of the week’s news story.
To tee up the context for this cover—in the same week, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was struggling to defend his position on the auto bailout while courting voters in the heartland on the eve of the Michigan primary. Simultaneously, working class hero Bruce Springsteen was back in the spotlight talking about his new anthemic album which he called “as direct a record as I ever made.” Not to mention, this coming off a certain blue-collar, Detroit-centric super-bowl ad that was seen as being too “politically charged.” Against this backdrop, the team at Bloomberg Businessweek perfectly captured this moment using the pop-culture reference of the Boss’s Born in the U.S.A. album cover to illustrate the struggle for Romney to connect with voters looking for a populist message.
To tie everything together in an execution like this goes beyond just “a clever idea.” I think it’s one of those covers that will serve as a time capsule of how we’ll remember what the sentiment was at this time, which is exactly what great magazine covers should be.