So Long to ‘Sad Jen,’ America’s Favorite Brand

If you visited a pharmacy, supermarket, gas station or pretty much any other retail spot at some point between 2005 and last week, you learned a few things: Jen is sad. Jen is lonely. Jen wants babies. Jen can’t get over Brad.

We’ve never paid money for a tabloid publication, but we heard that story too–over and over and over again. It drove millions in sales and ad revenue for rags like US Weekly, Star , OK and even People (which is Time Warner’s top property, by the way). Of course, Jennifer Aniston is engaged now, and New York Magazine got to the heart of the earth-shattering issue this week with an in-depth analysis of her “strange run as America’s favorite spinster next door.”

Whether you liked it or not (we didn’t), “Sad Jen” was an enduring brand in the most modern sense of the word.

We’re not sure whether the actress and her PR team encouraged this coverage: No one likes to be photographed without makeup for a story about the crushing loneliness they’re feeling after the latest breakup, but all that publicity did play a central role in helping Ms. Aniston earn just shy of $25 million last year. In hounding their favorite victim so relentlessly, the tabloids made her a more sympathetic character—and helped the studios behind her pictures sell tickets.

So the big question is…get ready for it…can Jennifer Aniston’s face still sell tabloids? Will the papz continue to train their sights on Jen, or will they finally give up their most lucrative cash source and move even further into reality-TV land?

We don’t care how often big-name actors complain about negative coverage–it’s a lot better than no coverage at all. For example, we can’t see Robert Pattinson replacing Jen as everyone’s favorite sadly single star, but his recent press tour has brought a lot of attention to his new movie–why else would any 17-year-old girl want to see a David Cronenberg flick?

Imagine for a moment that you are Aniston’s representative. Stop rolling around in all that imaginary money and tell us what you would do to extend her reign as America’s queen of mediocre movies.