The Vogue September Issue: By The Numbers

September 6, 2011

The cover of the September 2011 issue of Vogue.

The September issues of fashion magazines are when advertisers spend big to promote their new fall fashions. Results are closely watched, and the total number of ad pages can set the tone for revenue success for the entire year. Consumers even get excited, eagerly anticipating the new, colorful ads featuring their favorite celebrities and models.

The best known September issue belongs to Conde Nast’s Vogue. The ratio of pages with original content vs. pages with ads teeters on ridiculous, but that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be. The September issue of Vogue is so iconic that it inspired a documentary, “The September Issue,” which was released in 2009 and chronicled editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the 2007 September issue.

Here are some facts about this year’s September issue:

  • Supermodel Kate Moss, who graces the cover of the 2011 September issue, is the world’s most prolific Vogue cover girl. She has appeared on 31 British Vogue covers, 16 Vogue Paris covers and six Vogue covers in the U.S.
  • The magazine has 758 pages, 584 of which are advertisements
  • More than three-fourths of the pages in the issue are advertising
  • The total number of ad pages in this issue is up 50 from last year, or 9.3 percent
  • Of the 584 ad pages, 42 feature celebrities instead of models, or 7 percent
  • The three page table of contents is not completed until page 172
  • The September issue of Vogue has 329 more ad pages than W and 234 more ad pages than Elle
  • There are eight QR codes in the issue, for advertisers such as Macy’s, Sephora and Born Crown Footwear
  • Less than two percent of the ads in the September issue include a URL to a Facebook page
  • Of the 584 ad pages, only seven include social media icons, encouraging readers to find them on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Only one advertiser included a link to a YouTube page
  • The issue weighs in at just under four pounds
  • Sex doesn’t sell- I only considered five ads to be overly sexual
  • The majority of the advertisers fall into the fashion, beauty and jewelry categories
  • There were eighteen pages of ads that didn’t fall into the categories above, including ads for Lexus, Chrysler 300, American Express, Chevy Camero and several non-profit organizations
  • An editorial feature on the rise of China as a “style superpower” spans 22 pages
  • As part of its large ad buy, Covergirl ran four full page ads, each featuring a fashion blogger talking about their favorite Covergirl makeup product
  • The September issue is more than 3x larger than last month’s issue

Of all the research that I conducted, I was very surprised by the number of celebrities as models and the number of overly sexual ads. I expected both figures to be much higher. Did anything surprise you?