The [Economist] newsweekly, a bible of global affairs for those who wear aspirations of worldliness on their sleeves, did not become a status symbol overnight. It took 25 years of clever advertising that tugs at the insecurities and ambitions of the status-seeking reader to help the magazine get there. ...
Selling a publication with a title that conjures painful memories of college social science requirements can’t be easy. But the brand officers at The Economist and the advertising firm BBDO have devised a marketing strategy that makes people think reading the magazine will make them smarter and more sophisticated.
Their approach has been anything but subtle.
“Once upon a time, there was an ambitious young man who didn’t read The Economist. The End,” read one particularly audacious ad from 2004. Another, from 1988 said, “I never read The Economist — Management Trainee. Age 42.” One from 2001 said, “Look forward to class reunions.”
--Jeremy W. Peters, NYT, on how to sell a magazine these days