Face on the Cover

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Have we emphasized enough what we're selling here?
Dietrich and Joe DiMaggio
On the cover of a magazine.

"Vogue" - Madonna from the album I'm Breathless.

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. One of the oldest tricks in advertising is using the face of a celebrity to sell your product. Films, cartoons, comic books, video games and TV series will put the main actors or characters on the posters, ads or DVD covers. Novels and non-fiction books will use the author or a main character. Music albums will just show a photograph of the band or the lead singer.

It's the easiest and most uninspiring way to sell your product. Doing something artistic, like making a Design Student's Orgasm cover where the actual creators or cast may not be seen at all, may be more clever and intriguing, but also confusing to the potential audience. Why show just a picture of a location, an abstract color or motive or something unrelated to the lyrics or music if these things will just confuse potential clients? Just put the face of the creator or main cast on the cover and people will immediately identify it as their latest installment. It's Show, Don't Tell in its most blatant form.

The face will often be a close-up, but can also be full frontal. If the creator or cast member is identifiable by silhouet you may show him on the back. Usually he, she or them will be shown prominently on the foreground so that other elements (other people, animals, buildings, nature,...) will not distract. When its just a floating head it's Floating Head Syndrome.

This is rarely used for animation and video games as the characters are entirely fictional and probably not recognizable to anyone that doesn't know the franchise already. There are exceptions when the character is absurdly popular and well known or has a famous actor and is heavily based on them.

Compare with Face of the Band (when one person of a group is featured more prominently than the others) and Wolverine Publicity (when one person is always put on the cover, despite hardly being in the work half of the time).

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Some specific brands who make use of a face on all of their products:
    • Aunt Jemima on Aunt Jemima breakfast foods.
    • Bibendum for Michelin tires.
    • Captain Birdseye for Captain Birdseye fishsticks.
    • Chef Boyardee for Chef Boyardee pasta.
    • The Burger King on Burger King restaurants.
    • Mr. Clean on Mr. Clean cleaning products.
    • Rich Uncle Pennybags is featured prominently on the box of every Monopoly game.
    • Colonel Sanders on Kentucky Fried Chicken.
    • The Laughing Cow on La Vache Qui Rit cheese.
    • Alfred E. Neuman appears on the front of every issue of Mad Magazine.
    • Uncle Ben on Uncle Ben's rice.
    • Rastus on Cream of Wheat boxes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sesame Street actually has an unwritten rule that no matter how little he may be involved in the product, Elmo has to be featured on the covers of books and DVDs, otherwise they won't sell (overlapping this trope with Wolverine Publicity at times). Case in point: When the 25th anniversary edition of Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird was released, Elmo was included on the DVD cover art, despite Elmo only appearing in a very brief cameo toward the end of the movie note . Similarly, the direct-to-DVD special A Sesame Street Christmas Carol also has Elmo on the cover, though the special is about Oscar, and Elmo only appears in flashback clips.

    Magazines 
  • This is basically how all popular magazines sell their product. They put the face of a celebrity on the cover.
  • Mad Magazine. You'll always know you're looking at a Mad magazine issue, because Alfred E. Neuman's face is nearly always visibly present.

    Music 

    Video Games 
  • The cover of Dark Souls 3 features an armoured man officially called The Red Knight. He's actually the Final Boss, the Soul of Cinder, an amalgamation of everyone that ever linked the First Flame. This includes the player characters (ie you) from the previous Dark Souls games and the first game's Final Boss Gwyn.
  • The cover of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round does this, only showing main protagonist Kasumi and her clone Phase 4's faces.
  • The cover of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain only features a side shot of Venom Snake's face, with a big red ! with a V for a bar over it.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Code Veronica X's European box art is simply a large close-up of Claire's face.
    • The European cover for Survivor 2 has a similar close up, except a lot more gross since it's a zombie.

    Web Original 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FaceOnTheCover