Imagine you were invited to a party with all of your heroes. That's what happened to me a little over ten years ago. Sort of.
Back in 2005, the American Society of Magazine Editors — ASME is to magazine publishing what the Academy is to the movie business — announced the “40 Greatest Magazine Covers of the Last 40 Years.” Our Fast Company "Brand Called You" cover from August 1997 (pictured below) was selected as one of the winners.
Who else was at the party? John and Yoko, Demi, Muhammad Ali, Nixon, Cindy Crawford, Saul Steinberg, Ellen, Annie Liebovitz, Princess Di, and Andy Warhol. Not to mention the great art directors of those covers: George Lois, Roger Black, Fabien Baron, David Carson, and John Korpics among them. It was like being included in one of those Miguel Covarrubias illustrations of old Hollywood royalty in Vanity Fair (above). Or an average Saturday night at Studio 54.
"The breadth and quality of covers was striking and showed the creativity and innovation of our industry," said then-ASME Executive Director, Marlene Kahan. "Clearly, the top-ranked covers were resonant and iconic, striking a deep chord with our judges. In total, these covers provide an evocative snapshot of our nation and its preoccupations throughout the past four decades."
Esquire, Time, and Life magazines each had four winning covers. Thirty-two of the selections featured photographs on their cover and seven were illustrated, while three displayed only typography: our "Brand Called You" (from August 1997), Time's "Is God Dead?" (April 1966), and Esquire's "Oh my God — we hit a little girl" (October 1966) issues. Eleven winning covers were published in the 1960s; eight in the 1970s; three in the 1980s; ten in the 1990s, and nine in the 2000s.
Looking at this collection, you'll get a very good sense of what's happened in this country over the past half century. Our Fast Company cover story (written by the great Tom Peters) marked the beginning of a dramatic series of changes in the way Americans think about their work and their careers.
That incredible cocktail party never really happened — the 40/40 announcement was made at an ASME conference at a resort under the palm trees in Puerto Rico. But as we sit here freezing on a bone-chilling -9º February night in New England, we'll hoist a Bulleit on the rocks to ourselves and the other 39 winners.