October 29, 2019
After the hardreading staff noted the Boston Globe’s ads-in-sheep’s-clothing inserts that have appeared in the paper the past two weeks, sharp-eyed reader Mark Laurence posted this comment.
How about the Boston Globe Auto section on Saturday and Sunday? The top half of the front page always has a glowing review of a new vehicle, in normal Globe typeface. The bottom half is always an ad from Herb Chambers selling that same vehicle. Yesterday it wasn’t even labeled as an advertising section.
Not to get technical about it, Mark, but it’s not really an advertising section. Seems more like an ad-liance.
It can hardly be a coincidence that on four of the past seven Sundays, a Herb Chambers ad below the fold offered the vehicle featured above it.
Representative sample: On October 20, Page One of the Globe’s Sunday Autos section contained an August 24 review of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator by the Detroit Free Press’s Mark Phelan.
As you can see, the featured vehicle in the ad is the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. Similar combos occurred on September 15, September 29, and October 27. Interestingly, the September 29th review spotlighted . . . the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. Herb must have a bunch of those sitting on the lot.
The question, of course, is this: Does the Globe give Chambers a heads-up on what review is running each Sunday, or does Chambers get to call the car? The harddriving staff would hate to think it’s the latter.
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 . . .