The cover story

My first interview with Vigor Industrial CEO Frank Foti did not go as expected.

 I was prepared to discuss shipbuilding, dry docks and Fennica ice breakers. I didn’t anticipate the elephant in the room. Literally. Foti, a jovial bear of man, met me in his office hugging a Dumbo-like creature he insisted on including in the photo shoot. He then unspooled a narrative about Vigor's corporate culture based on four touchy-feely principles: truth, responsibility, evolution and love.

The topic was at first startling, then disarming and, finally, compelling enough to serve as the subject matter for the article.  

I walked off the shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: The Love Boat. A  no-brainer, right?

Not everyone thought so. Back in the office, I discovered that Chris Noble, OB's art director, had never heard of the 1970s television classic.  As many loyal OB readers know, Chris is British. Apparently those on the other side of the pond never had the pleasure of viewing the romantic antics that took place on the cruise ship Pacific Princess.

In the name of research, Chris went online, watched a few episodes and, presumably, overdosed on "The Loooooove Boat ... " the refrain that greets viewers at the beginning of each episode.

Here’s what he came up with:

111115-cover-loveboat

I asked Chris to explain his artistic vision:

"There are three main icons of The Love Boat's graphics: the font, Futura Black — the wacky oddball of the Futura family — the round picture frame for the actors with hearts all around it and a weird, squiggly frame. Being of sound mind I passed on those for inspiration (not least because they're so far off-OB brand) and looked a little deeper for anything I could use without laying awake at night. Blue: check. Hearts: ahhh, do I have to? Check. Extrusion effects on the text: check, and then some. (I added the wobbly lettering for self-aware comedy strangeness.) It was very close to a sleeplessness-causing design."

Chris' insomnia notwithstanding, the OB staff loved the cover and were ready to run with it. But then: a wrench was thrown into the proceedings. Pondering an inside headline, I was struck by another pop culture inspiration: the hit song by Tina Turner: “What’s Love Got to do with It?”

As always, I ran the new headline by my discerning coworkers. OB research editor Kim Moore, (also British, also a Love Boat novice) gave it the thumbs up: What's more, "What's Love…" was a better fit for the article than "The Love Boat," Kim opined. What DOES love have to do with the fortunes of an industrial shipyard?

Plus, Kim confided, she heard from her American husband that The Love Boat was “about a lot of people getting off with each other.”  Perhaps not so fitting for the cover of a business magazine?

I begged to differ; suffice it to say on that subject Kim and I were two ships passing in the night. But I agreed with her preferred cover choice. "What's Love...?" captured the incongruity driving the narrative, as well as the cover photo of Frank smiling up a storm, outfitted in button down shirt, goggles and hard hat, shipyard docks looming in the background.

The upshot: We retained the "Love Boat" headline for the inside spread and posted "What’s Love Got to Do with It?" as our cover line.

More in this category: « The Storytellers The Cover Story »

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