Boston Globe Leases Out Even More Editorial Content

April 20, 2018

The Boston Globe is selling itself for parts.

For three years now the hardreading staff has chronicled the $tately local broadsheet’s slapping corporate logos on a series of editorial material – from lending Capital to Suffolk University to mortgaging part of its Business section to Rockland Trust to double-dipping on the Prouty Garden dustup at Boston Children’s Hospital  to ensuring that Cross Insurance could “present” part of the Globe’s Arts section.

Now comes the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health‘s mash note to Meredith Goldstein in today’s Love Letters column.

Close-up for the presenter-impaired:

Just last week we noted how relentlessly the Globe’s print edition was flogging the Love Letters podcast in quarter-page ads that are also Kripaluscious.

Stay tuned – we’re guessing the Globe next sells The Metro Minute to Swatch.


Boston Sunday Globe Inserts: Ads in Sheep’s Clothing

October 28, 2019

Branded content comes in many forms, as our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Attack have extensively chronicled. The New York Times has been particularly adroit at all forms of branded content, which Sneak Adtack noted earlier this year.

For the past four years the hardtracking staff has chronicled the drift by the New York Times toward cross-platform integration of native advertising, a.k.a. Russian Nesting Ads. A company runs an ad in the paper’s print edition that promotes an online ad that the Times’s T Brand Studio has created to look like editorial content. (Representative sample here.)

 

The Boston Globe, on the other hand, has only flirted with native advertising up to now, as in this bit of UMass marketing from a few years ago. Given the evidence of the past week, though, the $tately local broadsheet seems ready to dive into the deep end of the stealth marketing pool.

Last week’s Boston Sunday Globe included this eight-page Advertising Supplement produced by Boston Globe Media’s BG BrandLab.

 

 

With branded content, the first thing you want to look at is disclosure – how clear is it to readers that they’re looking at marketing material and not editorial content?

Give this effort a C- in transparency. “Special Report” is about three times the type size of “Advertising Supplement” on the front page, and this sort-of masthead – buried bottom left – occupies about five percent of page two.

 

 

Inside there are six unbylined articles along with four “Provided by” items that are presumably paid content.

 

 

Not surprisingly, the advertising supplement’s “Knowledge Partners” at the bottom of Page One also occupied some of the inside space, starting with this American Cancer Society advertorial atop page two.

 

 

Then the Boston Breast Cancer Equity Coalition got its ad turn.

 

 

And, of course, Susan G. Komen New England also made an advertising appearance.

 

 

There were also traditional ads for Lady Grace, Avon, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Then yesterday came this Special Report on cybersecurity.

 

 

In terms of transparency, this one gets a D. Start with the top of page two, which looks very much like a standard Editor’s Letter.

 

 

(Note to BGniks: You might want to standardize the spelling of your name. The front page has BG BrandLab, the foreword is by BG Brandlab, and the sign-off is The BG Brand Labs Team. Details, people.)

The sort-of masthead that was small in the first insert is positively minuscule in this one.

 

 

See that tiny band at the bottom? That’s it.

Other differences: There are a couple of bylined articles; “Provided by” has mostly turned into “Sponsored by” (one of them is on election security from Brianna Wu, although it does not identify her as a primary challenger to Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ 8th district – bad investment); and the Knowledge Partners on the front page – the National Cyber Security Alliance and Mitre – don’t have ads inside.

Oh, yes – and the whole thing looks a lot more like an editorial section than the first one.

But at least those two inserts are marginally transparent about being marketing material. Far worse was last month’s Globe wet kiss to Boston Children’s Hospital in the form of A 150th Anniversary Special Issue. It’s just the latest instance of the Globe’s playing footsie with BCH over the past few years, although it’s an especially egregious one in that it required the participation of the Globe newsroom.

It’s one puff piece after another, interspersed with dozens of costly congratulatory ads.

But no mention in those 68 pages of the hospital’s wanton destruction of the beloved Prouty Garden, or the battle over the hospital’s questionable expansion to service a projected – but by no means assured – international clientele.

 

To recap:

The BG BrandLab inserts strike us as Misdemeanor Misleading. The BCH 150th anniversary issue was Felony Failure of editorial integrity.

Court is adjourned.


Boston Globe’s Wet Kiss to Children’s: Rx for $$$

September 30, 2019

As the hardreading staff unfolded its Boston Sunday Globe yesterday, we encountered this notice at the bottom of Page One.

Except . . .

We also encountered this 68-page magazine nestled inside the paper.

 

 

Must be an advertising supplement for Boston Children’s Hospital, we thought, given its relentlessly sunny-side-up Table of Contents.

 

 

But, actually, the magazine was produced by Boston Globe staffers.

 

 

It’s one puff piece after another, interspersed with dozens of costly congratulatory ads.

But no mention in those 68 pages of the hospital’s wanton destruction of the beloved Prouty Garden, or the battle over the hospital’s questionable expansion to service a projected – but by no means assured – international clientele.

(To be clear graf goes here)

To be clear, this isn’t the first time the Globe has played footsie with BCH. As we previously noted:

Boston Globe $hilling Again for Children’s Hospital

This is getting really flagrant.

As the hardreading staff has noted multiple times, the Boston Globe has put on a full-court press over the past week promoting the proposed expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last week it was an op-ed piece from former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer urging state officials to get off their duffs and approve the expansion, already. Problem was, the Globe failed to mention that Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

On Sunday, this Globe editorial urged the state’s Public Health Council to approve the project.

Now today comes this op-ed by Jack Connors Jr., chairman emeritus of Partners HealthCare.

 

Not to mention the Globe’s accepting full-page ads from Children’s as it supported the hospital’s expansion on its Business pages and providing op-ed space for BCH president and CEO Sandra Fenwick to plead her case unopposed by dissenting points of view, of which there have been many.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, newspapers routinely produce vehicles largely designed to draw advertisers. This one just seems a little, well, germy.


Boston Globe Packages Self-Promotion As News

September 28, 2019

The hardreading staff has diligently chronicled the Boston Herald’s tendency to turn publicity material into editorial content (see our ongoing series Hark! The Herald! for details of the selfie local tabloid’s puffery).

But, truth be told, the Boston Globe is not immune to that same temptation. As we noted not long ago, “the Boston Globe has lately done its share of self-promotion as well. There was all the hubbub in the newshole last month over the paper’s HUBweek festival, and this wet kiss for ‘Globe Live’ in the Names column last week.”

Now comes this front-page piece in yesterday’s $tately local broadsheet.

 

 

C’mon, Globeniks – that’s not news; it’s PR.

Rather than make poor Andy Rosen “report” your press releases, why not promote HubWeek the same way you do the GlobeDocs Film Festival?

 

 

Perhaps because . . . Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Globe’s managing director and wife of Globe owner John Henry, is also cofounder of HubWeek.

Perhaps.


Boston Globe Love Letters No Longer a Kept Column?

July 3, 2018

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, the Boston Globe is increasingly willing to rent out its editorial content willy-nilly to marketing sponsors.

Exhibit Umpteen, as related in this space last month:

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, the $tately local broadsheet has allowed a marketer to get to second base with Love Letters columnist Meredith Goldstein. As we previously noted, ever since April the column has been leased out to – sorry, presented by – the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Today, the relationship got even chummier.

 

Beyond that, the Globe has relentlessly flogged the Kripalu-sponsored Love Letters podcast in quarter-page ads.

So imagine our surprise when we saw this, well, naked edition of Love Letters in today’s Globe.

Wait – have the Lovebirds torn the (broad)sheets?

And was the breakup really necessary?

Not to rub it in or anything.


Boston Globe Runs Aditorial to Preserve Yawkey Way

April 22, 2018

As the hardtsking staff has repeatedly noted, the Boston Globe can be a bit loosey-goosey about drawing a sharp line between advertising and editorial content.

So we were less than surprised to find this on Metro B2 today.

 

On the left are all the charities given donations by the Yawkey Foundation. At lower right is this body copy.

(There’s only sketchy information available about the Connors Family Office, but it’s clearly associated with local macher Jack Connors, who has adamantly opposed the Yawkey Way name change.)

Here’s the thing, though: On no part of the page does the word “advertisement” appear.

And here’s the other thing: Back in the 1960s legendary adman David Ogilvy postulated that 80% of people read only the headline of an ad. Fifty years later, do we think more than one in five read the ad’s body copy?

Fewer is more like it.

Our kissin’ cousins at Campaign Outsider have a long-running series, Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times, in which 1) all the ads look more like ads than the Connors one in today’s Globe, and yet 2) all of them are labeled “Advertisement.”

It’s a good guess that Connors didn’t want to spoil the visual effect by having his ad labeled an ad, but the $tately local broadsheet really should have higher standards than that.

Shouldn’t it?


Boston Globe Auctions Off More of Its News Pages

March 12, 2018

As the hardreading staff dolefully noted over the past few years, the Boston Globe’s editorial content has increasingly been playing footsie with marketing partners ranging from Suffolk University to Steward Health Care System to Rockland Trust to the Star Wars franchise.

Now comes Cross Insurance to “present” this page in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe Arts section.

 

 

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the hardreading staff has seen no Cross Insurance tit-for-tad in the $tately local broadsheet. But there is this sponsored content produced by BG BrandLab, the Globe’s in-house shop for producing ads in sheep’s clothing.

 

 

Yes yes – we’re aware that a disclosure line sits atop the website, albeit as inconspicuously as possible.

And if you click on the Information doohickey, this drops down.

 

 

Raise your hand if you ever click on that doohickey. Yeah, us neither.

Regardless of the level of transparency, we’re just uneasy overall about attaching financial interests to editorial content.

Never the twain should meet, right?

Or are we just hopelessly out of date?


Boston Globe Joins Herald in Running Sneak Adtacks

February 5, 2018

As the hardreading staff noted the other day, the Boston Herald has of late increased the amount of its “sponsored content” while decreasing the legibility of its disclosure.

Now the Boston Globe apparently wants to join the stealthy local tabloid in profiting from ads in sheep’s clothing, running this on A12 of today’s edition. (Here’s the digital version on the Globe website.)

 

 

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, sharp-eyed observers will pick up that it’s actually an ad, but not everyone is as perceptive as you, splendid reader. For some, anything with a headline and a byline qualifies as editorial content. Which is exactly what stealth marketing counts on.

Regardless, we’re guessing that the revenue-impaired Globe and the bankrupt Herald will increasingly turn toward this sleight-of-ad as time goes on.

We hope, of course, to be proven wrong.


Boston.com(merce) Shmushes Advertising & Editorial

June 7, 2017

From our State of the Cuisinart Marketing desk

In response to the hardreading staff’s post the other day about the Boston Herald auctioning off its editorial content to advertisers (and in the process conscripting its freelance writers into some sort of lend-lease program), splendid reader MM sent us this.

 

 

The Boston.com article in question: 

15 can’t-miss concerts in Boston this June

From Kiss Concert to Dead & Company, Hall & Oates to Megadeth.

An annual summer pop staple and pioneering jam band at Fenway are just two great music events hitting Boston in June.

Guitar gods

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Flamenco guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela is celebrating 10 years of performing together with a U.S. tour that will stop in Boston. The Mexico City natives are acoustic guitar virtuosos, and bring intricate soloing and and an unrivaled dynamic to a genre that’s not often given the spotlight. The two have collaborated with many famous composers and have even performed at the White House for President Barack Obama. (Tuesday, June 6 at 7 p.m.; House of Blues; $39.50-$59.50; all ages; tickets available here)

 

And etc. – for 14 more events.

Every tickets available here links to a ticket-buying site such as the House of Blues or MLB.com or AXS.com.

And what MM points out as “the italicized line at the end”?

Boston.com will receive payment if a purchase is made through the article.

 

As MM notes, that might be the first such partnership for Boston.com, but it’s emblematic of the monetizing efforts newspaper companies like Boston Globe Media are scrambling to initiate as they battle dwindling circulation numbers and plummeting ad revenues.

(The New York Times Co. has been the hands-down leader in this mash for cash, as our kissin’ cousins at Campaign Outsider have dutifully chronicled.)

But Globe Media has been ramping up the money chase as well. In addition to the Boston.commerce gambit, there’s the Globe Live storytelling event last month, the ongoing Boston Globe Travel Show, and who knows what else to come.

(To be sure graf goes here.)

To be sure, the hardrooting staff is all for anything that keeps newspapers alive and well – and keeps the separation between advertising and editorial alive and well at the same time.

‘Nuf sed.


Is There Anything Not For Sale at the Boston Globe?

March 9, 2017

As the hardreading staff duly noted, on Tuesday the Boston Globe pimped out – for the first time – its front page to the Boston Medical Center.

 

 

The redoubtable Dan Kennedy had this Broadsheet Confidential report at WGBH News.

Globe Editor McGrory Defends Placement Of Front-Page Boston Medical Center Ad

The print edition of [Tuesday’s] Boston Globe includes a banner advertisement that appears above the nameplate at the very top of the page. The ad, for Boston Medical Center, promotes that institution’s addiction services. The placement is unusual enough to have prompted a message to the staff late Monday night from Globe editor Brian McGrory:

Just a heads up to everyone that we have an unorthodox ad on the front page of tomorrow’s print Globe. There’s a copy of it at the bottom of this email. As you’ll see, it’s the same shape and size as our regular strip ads on the front, but it’s at the top of the page rather than the bottom.

We didn’t permit this lightly. The cause of fighting addiction is a noble and vital one. The institution involved, the Boston Medical Center, plays an important role in our community on this and many other issues. And we don’t intend this to be a regular ad position. This is part of a larger campaign that is important to the ad client and significant to the Globe.

Any issues or questions, feel free to raise or ask. Otherwise, thanks as always for your commitment to great journalism.

Brian

 

So the commitment to great journalism includes accommodating what’s “important to the ad client and significant to the Globe.”

Because they’re both on the side of the angels, right?

Except . . .

Yesterday’s edition of the Globe makes the $tately local broadsheet look like it’s on the side of the angles.

From Wednesday’s Food section, what at first glance looks like a two-page editorial spread:

 

 

Wait – where’s the ADVERTISEMENT   ADVERTISEMENT    ADVERTISEMENT at the top of page G3?

 

 

Apparently in someone’s desk drawer at the Globe.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the hardtsking staff can be a bit over-fastidious at times. But still, you have to wonder: How often will what’s important to the ad client and $ignificant to the Globe now dictate the aditorial content of the paper?

Or is the Globe content merely to be the Adbnb of whatever renters come its way?