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.


Northern Avenue Bridge: Fix It or Nix It?

January 28, 2016

From our Late to the Bridge Party desk

The headscratching staff freely admits we’re confused: Is Boston’s venerable Northern Avenue Bridge slated for a $100 million fix or a $100 million replacement?

Or are they the same?

From yesterday’s Jordan Graham/Owen Boss piece in the Boston Herald:

Public shock unlikely to derail GE deal

Critics blast tax breaks

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Massive tax breaks that helped bring General Electric’s world headquarters to the Hub are being blasted by critics for creating too sweet a deal for the global conglomerate — but don’t expect a public movement like the one that derailed the Boston 2024 Olympic bid to sidetrack the relocation.

In exchange for agreeing to move its global headquarters to the booming Seaport District, GE will get $145 million in grants and tax breaks from the city and state. But under the agreement, Boston will also pay up to $100 million to fix the dilapidated Northern Avenue Bridge . . .

 

Then again, there’s Shirley Leung’s column in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

Out with the old, Lynch says

The Northern Avenue Bridge could soon fall down, and US Representative Stephen Lynch is ready to release $9.4 northern ave. bridge 1-175606million in federal funding to help design a new one.

The city will need to match a portion of the money, but Lynch has been waiting more than a decade for Boston to do something about the century-old span. Last week, officials said they plan to start removing the dilapidated bridge in March after the Coast Guard raised concerns that it might tumble into the Fort Point Channel.

 

But here’s the headscratching part:

The Walsh administration will begin a formal public process this spring to decide whether to rehab the bridge or build a new one. The city has to do something after committing up to $100 million to replace the link as part of its agreement to woo General Electric Co.’s world headquarters to Boston.

 

Except the Herald says the commitment is to fix the link, not replace it.

So, to recap:

The local dailies agree that the Northern Avenue Bridge is dilapidated.

But, as Leung might say, will the state fix it or nix it?

You tell us.


Boston Herald: Boston.com Credibility Went Southie in St. Pat’s Coverage

March 18, 2015

No question: Boston.com has had its troubles lately.

And here comes more. From Boston Herald scribe Jessica Heslam’s column in today’s edition of the failly local tabloid:

Boston.com lowers the bar

Another kerfuffle after Southie 
post: ‘Every day is a drunk day’

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One day after a new editor took charge to impose standards at the Boston Globe’s beleaguered Boston.com, the website is drawing fire again — this time for posting a story that stated, “Every day is a drunk day in Southie.”

Headlined “True Life: I Was a Bartender In Southie During the St. Paddy’s Day Parade,” the post was written by Boston.com wire staff writer Jamie Loftus, who wrote about her experience at a South Boston restaurant during Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“Every day is a drunk day in Southie, but St. Paddy’s Day runs by a completely separate set of laws,” wrote Loftus, whose website bio says she is also a “standup and sketch performer.” “Sure, the tips are good, but servers earn every cent when it comes to dealing with the drunk masses first thing in the morning.”

 

Money quote: “I’m surprised such bigoted views are still tolerated at Boston.com,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston).

There’s also a tsk-tsk from former Boston mayor/current Herald contributor Ray Flynn, but it’s not worth repeating.

What is worth repeating: Boston.com needs some serious adult supervision.

Either that, or the Boston Globe should tear the sheets with Buston.com.


Hark! The Herald! (Radio Daze Edition)

August 8, 2014

From our Walt Whitman desk

It’s been one year since the feisty local tabloid launched Boston Herald Radio, and the paper is celebrating the anniversary in its accustomed style.

Start, as usual, with Page One.

 

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“Best yet to come”? That’s good to hear.

Inside, the firsty local tabloid devotes a full-page, Joe Battenfeld-bylined piece to the anniversary bash.

 

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Our favorite part:

Herald Radio’s launch was named to the prestigious Frontier Fifty list of outstanding talk media webcasts in the nation by industry bible Talkers Magazine.

 

Which got the headscratching staff to wondering: How many talk media webcasts are there in the nation?

We couldn’t find the answer on the Googletron (we’re guessing it’s a lot), but we did locate BHR on the Frontier Fifty:

 

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Let’s hope Boston Herald Radio’s second anniversary headline is, We’re Number 35! We’re Number 35!

Good luck, guys, and happy anniversary.


Hark! The Herald! (U.S. Senate Debate-o-rama)

April 9, 2013

The Boston Herald has officially become a perpetual self-promotion machine. Case in point: The feisty local tabloid 1) co-sponsored a UMass-Lowell debate last night between Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch (that’s good); 2) streamed it live on the Web (okay); and 3) devoted six full pages to it in today’s paper (huh???).

Start with the front page:

 

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Then on page 2 Hillary Chabot provides the basic play-by-play, and a plug for the debate replay .

 

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Flip to pages 4 and 5 for columnists Margery Eagan and Joe Battenfeld, plus a helpful Scorecard, plus another plug for the debate replay.

 

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Then pages 6 and 7 feature reaction from readers, a focus group, UMass-Lowell junior Corey Lanier, and the Herald’s Peter Gelzinis.

 

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Oh, yeah – don’t forget to watch the replay.


Bay State GOP Has a (Corned) Beef with Bay State Dems

March 14, 2013

From our Late to the (St. Pat’s Day) Party desk

First it was the gays and lesbians who couldn’t march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Now it’s the Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls who can’t attend the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

Wednesday’s Boston Herald Page One:

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The Hillary Chabot/Joe Battenfeld piece:

Saint Patrick's Day<br /><br />     * Wearing of the green|<br /><br />     * In Irelan‘No corned beef’ for 
GOP Senate hopefuls

The St. Patrick’s Day schmoozefest in South Boston will be missing something notable this Sunday — not bad jokes or warm beer, but all three Republican U.S. Senate candidates, who say they’ve been snubbed by the annual gathering of political power brokers.

Both Democratic Senate candidates, U.S. Reps. Stephen F. Lynch and Edward J. Markey, were invited and given speaking roles at the roast, which is traditionally a chance for candidates to get noticed by a statewide viewing audience.

“We weren’t invited to the party. No corned beef for Mike Sullivan,” said Lisa Barstow, spokeswoman for the former U.S. attorney, one of the three GOP Senate candidates. “It’s either a silly oversight or poor form. … Mike’s definitely got his Irish credentials.”

That’s a significant break with tradition, as the Herald piece notes. Bill Weld, Scott Brown, even Charlie Baker – all were invited to the hoedown in the past.

That was then. This is now:

Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan, the new host of the event, confirmed to the Herald last night that he didn’t invite any Republicans to speak this year, but said it was because only elected officials such as Lynch and Markey were getting speaking roles.

The Boston Globe-Repeater followed up with . . . nothing.

Score another one for our feisty local tabloid.


Poll Vault at the Boston Herald

March 7, 2013

Our feisty local tabloid today released a new poll on the U.S. Senate race (which pretty much runs true to form), and gave it that special Herald something.

Start with Page One:

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Two elements of note: 1) the Cryptkeeper photo of Ed Markey; and 2) the rose-colored subhead.

Inside spread:

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From Joe Battenfeld’s lead piece:

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is the clear frontrunner to win the special U.S. Senate election, but his support is so soft he’s failing to break the 50 percent mark even against a field of little-known GOP challengers, a new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll reveals.

 

Helpful graphic (see full poll here):

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Meanwhile, crosstown rival Boston Globe has a piggyback piece on the Herald poll with a decidedly more  measured tone.

Markey leads Lynch by wide margin in poll

Representative Edward J. Markey holds a wide lead over his Democratic rival for the Senate, fellow Representative Stephen F. Lynch, and would easily beat all three Republican candidates in a head-to-head matchup, according to a new poll.

Markey leads Lynch by 29.5 percentage points among potential Democratic primary voters, 50 percent to 20.5 percent, with 23 percent undecided about their preference in the April 30 primary, according to the UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll released Wednesday night.

Markey, of Malden, would also beat the Republicans candidates by double-digit margins, although the poll found that the vast majority of voters do not know who those candidates are, suggesting they have room to grow if they can broaden their profiles.

 

Room to grow. That’s putting it mildly.

Not at all the style at the Herald.