Boston Globe Still Won’t Disclose Total Wine Intere$t

June 1, 2017

As the hardreading staff noted earlier this week, the Boston Globe is raking in ad revenue from Total Wine & More while also reporting on the disruptive liquor retailer’s attempts to change state alcohol rules nationwide.

But the Globe has at the same time failed to acknowledge its financial relationship with Total Wine, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars on advertising in the $tately local broadsheet.

Latest example: Yesterday’s Page One piece on the pushback to relaxing alcohol regulations. Buried in the final grafs was this:

Businesses, meanwhile, are prepared to spend handsomely to push measures that benefit them. The Total Wine & More chain, for example, just launched a large public relations campaign urging the task force and the Legislature to allow alcohol retailers to issue coupons and loyalty cards.

 

At that point you’d think the Globe might mention this ad that ran three pages later.

 

 

But no.

Then again, not everyone finds the Globe’s non-disclosure problematic. After our initial post, the redoubtable Dan Kennedy sent us this message.

 

 

We yield to no man in our respect for Mr. Media Nation, but . . .

 

 

One final note: Before you pooh-pooh the hardtsking staff, consider the Globe’s totally egregious pom-pom reporting of the recent Citgo sign rumpus, during which the paper raked in easily a hundred thousand dollars in feel-good ads for the Kenmore Square icon without disclosing its financial interest in the matter.

But no matter?

Respectfully, we think not.

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Boston Globe Fails to Disclo$e Total Wine Ad Conflict

May 29, 2017

As the hardreading staff perused yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe, we happened upon this full-page A3 ad.

 

 

That called to mind the Globe’s recent Page One piece about Total Wine’s “total war against alcohol regulations.”

Total Wine uncorks new front in its war on rules

Big-box alcohol retailer targets Mass. regulations

Total Wine & More is waging total war on the nation’s alcohol laws — and Massachusetts is the new front line.

The largest retailer of beer, wine, and liquor in the country, Total Wine has successfully challenged longstanding alcohol laws in numerous states, tilting the marketplace to its advantage through a mix of litigation, lobbying, and rallying support from customers . . .

In Massachusetts, Total Wine has sued to invalidate a state regulation that prevents retailers from selling alcohol below cost, a common practice in other industries. The company is also about to launch a public relations campaign here challenging a state rule prohibiting alcohol retailers from issuing discount coupons and loyalty cards. It has submitted the proposed changes to a task force convened by Treasurer Deborah Goldberg to streamline the state’s alcohol laws.

 

Here’s the interesting part: Nowhere in the Globe piece is there any mention of the tens of thousands of dollars the $tately local broadsheet has raked in from Total Wine ads over the past few months.

That’s very much like the Globe’s recent non-disclosure of its financial interest while covering the rumpus over the fabled Citgo sign; the paper raked in more than a hundred thousand dollars in ads touting the Kenmore Square icon but never mentioned them in their coverage.

Memo to Globe editor Brian McGrory: We know you need the advertising revenue. But c’mon – at least be honest about it.


Bottoms Up! Wine-Store Ad War in Boston Globe!

July 15, 2019

Think of it as a behind-the-bar brawl.

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, the Total Wine chain of liquor stores has dropped a bundle over the past two years on full-page ads in the Boston Globe, sometimes cheek-by-jowl with critical coverage of the retailer’s attempts to change state alcohol rules nationwide to work more in the chain’s favor.

(For a lively debate in this space about whether the Globe should have disclosed its financial connection to Total Wine in those news reports, see here.)

Regardless, Total Wine had pretty much the run of the stately local broadsheet until last Thursday, when this ad appeared on page A16.

 

Here’s the body copy in the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet ad.

Something all serious winemakers and distillers have in common is great pride in their work. Read the label – they’re very eager to tell you all about their history, their traditions, their culture. Oh, it’s not on there? Maybe you’re looking at one of Total Wine’s private-label “house brands” from an unidentified source.

At New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, you will find brands you know and trust at everyday low prices.

 

Whoa – that’s some serious liquor store shade, no?

This being Boston, we expected a serious smashmouth response, but here’s what appeared on page A3 of yesterday’s Globe.

 

 

Average savings of six bucks vs. New Hampshire prices?

That’s all you got, Total Wine?

Total Wimp is more like it.


Is Anything Not For Sale at the Boston Globe? (II)

March 10, 2017

In response to the hardtsking staff’s post yesterday that the Boston Globe was slowly becoming a sort of Adbnb after pimping out its front page on Tuesday and failing to label an editorial-looking ad on Wednesday, splendid reader Mark Laurence submitted this comment:

I don’t get your point. What is it about the Total Wine ad that doesn’t look like an ad to you? Did the graphics look too nice? There wasn’t a single sentence of text on the whole page, something you’d expect in a news story. If you want to complain about fake ads, how about the occasional Herald “road trips” to Florida or some other place that include advertising slogans and graphics in the middle of their reporter’s copy?

 

Well said, and an excellent opportunity to express some of the things we should have included in the original post.

All reasonable questions, Mark. I know it looks like an ad (although the Total Wine typeface feels kind of similar to Globe section headers), and there’s no text other than merchandise listings, etc.

But . . .

The Globe has traditionally labeled full-page ads that looked a lot more like ads with ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT across the top of the page. Beyond that, newspapers are getting into so many other businesses (e.g. the New York Times: Travel agency, educational institution, retailer, conference center . . . see here for further details), it could easily be the Globe selling wine on that page.

My point is this: Stealth marketing erodes editorial credibility incrementally, not all at once. Sort of the way authoritarianism erodes democracy, except not as serious. I’m more concerned with the Globe’s BMC sellout than any relaxation of ad labeling, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the latter.

As for the Herald, I’ll keep an eye out for the next time the paper sheds an adificial light on the Sunshine State.

 

That’s all for now. But more, we’re guessing, to come . . .