As far as marketing strategies go, it doesn't get much better than Ashley Cole's promo video for the fifth issue of the Green Soccer Journal. I know because buying a copy was the very first thing I did as soon as the video ended. Need a reminder of its greatness?
Watch it again and again, then browse through our GIF-by-GIF breakdown. You're welcome.
Having liberated the necessary £16 + £8 (shipping) from my dog's college fund - sorry buddy, you'll have to catch your own food this week - I expected greatness. And I almost got it.
The magazine certainly has a unique style, different from any other publication that I'm aware of in the football world. You won't ever find yourself confusing it with the standard World Soccer or even the modern Howler. Weighing in at a meaty 244 pages - double the size of previous issues, I'm told - it's got presence and knows how to make a great entrance. Plenty of glossy, heavy paper, although parts of it are rather inexplicably plain matte. Not sure what's going on there. They aim to provide an "alternative view on football" and that mostly involves featuring and emphasizing plenty of intimate, up-close, odd-angle, or visually interesting photography. As a whole, it evoked a very '70s thing and reminded me of summers spent leafing through my uncle's old, discarded copies of football and men's style magazines at my grandparents' house. In a good way. When my copy arrived, I sat outside to read it in the beautiful - and bearable, a rarity in these months - Northern California sunshine and it was a lovely time.
As far as the actual Ashley Cole interview ... well, let's just say that it's nowhere near as groundbreaking or different as the rest of the presentation and marketing. The narrative tries to show Ash as "The Selfsame Player," wherein his public persona is at odds yet at the same time in-synch with his private persona. Or something. It's a touch high concept for an idea that could be applied to just about any other public figure of whom we construct a certain view or opinion based on limited actual available information. Cole does polarize a bit more than your standard football player, and he seems quite self-aware and aware of his own public perception (yet basically uncaring at the same time!), so he's certainly a good candidate for this cover story.
Unfortunately, Ash's words are just your standard words in every football player interview ever. He talks about his youth, his development, his Arsenal, Chelsea, and England careers. He says a few smart things - mostly about how there are more people and (strong) opinions in and around the game nowadays - but his personality as it comes across on the pages doesn't quite match the hype ("SAINT OR SINNER?" is the question in the subheading). Perhaps a less-informed audience would find it more interesting; personally, I learned nothing new. So that's a bit disappointing.
But it's only a slight blemish. I bought the issue strictly based on the promo, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a few other personal favorites like Salomon Kalou, Oscar, and Ezequiel Lavezzi gracing the pages in pictures and in words. And I adore the style and the fact that they're doing something a tad bit different. I may just buy the next issue, too, even if there isn't a sequel to the video.