Hold the front page - for an advert

Ads are moving forward – from inside magazines to front covers. Also
more magazines – even some newspapers – are allowing products to be
featured in news stories. It's the latest trend in US magazines. For
example, the next issue of Hearst's shopping magazine Shop Etc. is
giving over its entire front cover to an ad for Target, the big
American retail chain. The word "advertisement" appears only in small
print over the logo. The new word is "cover-wrap" because the ad
extends from front cover to back cover.

It's an indication, as
the New York Times points out, of how magazines – facing increased
competition for ad dollars – are becoming more flexible about the type
of ads they will now accept. Selling "cover ads" has been commonplace
for years among trade magazines, but rarely among mass-circulation
consumer magazines which have tried to draw a line between ads and
editorial.

Other publications are catching on to the idea. In
Touch Weekly recently ran a back-page ad for Diet Pepsi that many said
looked remarkably like its front cover. Similarly the American offshoot
of OK!, has lately taken to running pictures of Pepsi closely adjacent
to pictures of celebrities photographed on a beach and similarly warm
weather places. In the TV and movie industry they are called placement
ads The fine line between ads and editorial is becoming truly blurred.
The July issue of Premier magazine includes two pages about a new movie
called Little Miss Sunshine. It looks like a regular news feature
written by the magazines' regular movie reviewer but almost hidden at
the top is a small "Paid Advertisement" disclaimer. "It's all a little
muddy" commented a spokesman for The Poynter Institute, a well known
journalistic watchdog organisation here.

Recently an entire issue
of the American version of The Week was "sponsored" by Home Box Office
to promote its new movie "Deadwood". Admitted the magazine's US
publisher Carolyn Kremins "There is so much advertising clutter these
days. It's a great opportunity for an advertiser to own an audience for
a week." Although its not the first time.a magazine here has devoted an
entire issue to one advertiser (The New Yorker did it two years ago) it
has nevertheless re-opened debate in the magazine world. Particularly
critical of The New Yorker back in 2004 was the American Society of
Magazine Editors. The Magazine Publishers Of America even went so far
as to issue new guidelines defining the separation of editorial and
advertising in American consumer magazines.

But the tide is
swelling. Even the NY Times is planning to accepts ads on the front
page of its daily business section, starting this week. They will
appear – for the moment anyway – in a strip along the bottom of the
page. The Wall Street Journal is said to be also considering the idea.
Some editors here even suggest the idea is losing a lot of its old
stigma.

 

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