Droga5's Essex: I'll Say It Again, We 'Hijacked' New York

ASME Says Cover Stunt Within the Rules

By Published on .

The crew over at New York magazine couldn't have been pleased when they heard suggestions that this week's promotional copies, wrapped in an ad for the New Museum and incorporating the "New" from New York's logo, probably breached the divide between advertising and editorial.

What's worse, the source was Droga5, the agency that did the work for the Museum. Andrew Essex, CEO of Droga5, called it a "cover hijack" in Portfolio's media blog. "The cover has always been sacred," he continued, "and this is the first time it's really been fucked with."

A New York spokeswoman cooly demurred. "I would not have chosen those words," she said. The promotion didn't violate any guidelines from the American Society of Magazine Editors, she added. "The copies wrapped for the New Museum were a promotional overrun -- not counted toward our rate base and sent only to non-subscribers -- so we feel confident that we're in the clear."

When we asked Mr. Essex to expand on his prior remarks, he did not try to rephrase. "The reporter got his hands on a copy and seemed obsessed with the ASME implications," he said in an email. "Frankly, and with all due respect, I don't care about ASME."

"The work we did was for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and we did -- with New York magazine's delighted cooperation -- in fact 'hijack' (to use a hyperbolic word) 10,000 covers of the magazine," he said. "The cover has never been used this way."

Just to settle things a bit, we actually checked in with the American Society of Magazine Editors. "In the scheme of things, because it's a smaller run, it's probably not a violation," said Marlene Kahan, executive director there. "I don't think it's as problematic as others that are coming into the fray. There is a trend toward a use of covers as advertiser space, in many instances more egregious than using half of the New York magazine logo."
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