In September 2008, Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow founded a company called Goop. From newsletteBrrs containing tips for a better and healthier life, the company has grown into a $250 million business, and Goop has become a true lifestyle-and-wellness brand.
When it was announced that the famous American newspaper publisher Conde Nast, which publishes fashion magazines Vogue and GQ among other things, had signed a contract with Goop to jointly launch a printed lifestyle magazine called Goop, it was news that surpassed the boundaries of merely a single business project. It was a meeting of the old and the new media concept. Vogue’s legendary editor and the current art director of Conde Nast, Anna Wintour, excitedly stated that this new magazine would be like a breath of fresh air for the whole company.
However, their cooperation didn’t last long. Conde Nast terminated it after only two published issues. The reason? Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t agree that the facts which would be published should be checked beforehand, despite the fact that this had been clearly stated in the contract. Conde Nast couldn’t accept that the content of the journal would be written and edited primarily as a contextual platform for the promotion and sale of Goop products. To put it simply, they didn’t want to agree to the content of the magazine being used as nothing but a PR tool. For her part, the actress said that she didn’t understand what the problem was and added that her business partners, despite wanting to adapt to the new way of doing business, still clung to the old. This type of remark simply illustrates the fact that in today’s media communication world, the facts are becoming less important. It’s as if we’re increasingly living in a world where the old cynical thesis that “if the facts are contrary to my belief, too bad for them” holds true. How and why did this come about?
The main reason for this is the change in the media world in which we function. We create and publish more and more information and media content, ourselves. At the same time, we also receive more and more information and media content from all over the place. We have created a new media context within which we consume media content.
Traditional media used to be intermediaries between the one who produced the content and the one who received it. In this world, the media consumer had a passive role. On one side, it was “us”, the ones who read, listen and watch, on the other side it was “them”, the ones who choose what we could read, listen to and watch at all, and the choice was limited. Now, we choose who, when and how much we will read, listen to and watch something, and the choices are limitless. So we choose to connect with those like ourselves. It’s important for us to feel good; to have a good time and that there’s always something new. Whether this new is true or not, matters less. We’ll get a new dose of media content anyway the very next hour or the next day, and today’s new will become old and irrelevant.
Thus, in the world of the limitless quantity of content and practically unlimited access to that content, it has become possible for people to remain in circles of the like-minded, ignoring the content in which they a priori don’t believe. In bubbles such as these, the truth is what we’ve decided to believe in.
That’s why I’m convinced that Gwyneth Paltrow really doesn’t understand what the problem with Conde Nast is and that her comment really was sincere. After all, Goop has already had a problem with facts. They’ve published various theories and therapies designed by self-styled gurus for a better and healthier life and offered costly methods and procedures for a better appearance. One of these was the promotion of a vaginal egg made of jade which was claimed to balance out hormones and regulate periods, while on the other hand, gynecologists claimed it could be harmful to health. Recently, a court decision prohibited advertising of this product in such a way and Goop was ordered to pay a fine.
And this is not the only example. Goop also promoted a facial rejuvenation technique, using bee sting treatment without any scientific verification, and in addition, they also sold stickers claiming to have a beneficial effect because they were made from NASA’s space suits, which NASA denied.
Did this jeopardize the financial success of Goop? Not for now! Has it affected the brand’s reputation? For a number of people, certainly, but there are obviously enough of those who take warnings of unverified and inaccurate claims as all the more reason to continue to believe in them. And when you really want to believe in something, you shouldn’t be burdened by the facts.
Whatever happens to Goop, their users will definitely not turn to Conde Nast or some of the similar media mastodons as an alternative. The fact that we don’t know what awaits us in this media transformation is one thing, but what we definitely know is whose time is up.