Does Color Count as Product Placement?
Use of advertiser's colors in sponsored issues: ethical?
New York magazine this week joined a small but growing list of publishers to turn over their magazines to a single sponsor, selling 24 front-of-book advertising pages to HSBC, the European bankâ€”making it the magazineâ€™s largest single-issue advertiser ever.
The New Yorker famously sold its entire inventory to Target in 2005, sparking a debate over the ethics of running a campaign that used illustrations, mimicking the New Yorkerâ€™s famed covers, and a cover that, itself, featured beach balls mimicking Targetâ€™s red and white colors.
While less known, HSBCâ€™s colors, also red and white, are used on New York magazineâ€™s cover this week. Intentional?
â€śAbsolutely not,â€ť Serena Torrey, a representative for New York magazine, wrote in an e-mail. â€śRed, white and black are employed frequently on New York magazine's covers (and inside the magazine) and have been for decades. As Adam [Moss] said in his letter on the Table of Contents page, 'ads and editorial matter in New York are always completely independent of one another, this issue included.â€™ Of course, the cover is some of our most important and visible 'editorial matter' and is always subject to exactly the same hard-line 'church and state' separation as is the rest of the magazine.â€ť
(Torrey, I should mention, attached 15 recent covers using red, white and/or black to prove her point.)
In August, TV Guide published an issue with ABC Television as its sole advertiser, with 21 ad pages promoting ABC Televisionâ€™s fall lineup. (TV Guide didnâ€™t bother matching ABCâ€™s color palette; they simply put Patrick Dempsey, the star of ABCâ€™s primetime drama Greyâ€™s Anatomy, on the issueâ€™s cover.)
While TV Guideâ€™s cover treatment raises legitimate ethical questions (Did they really sell the cover to ABC? Would ABC still have run its ads if TV Guide put, say, Kiefer â€śJack Bauerâ€ť Sutherland on its cover?) thereâ€™s nothing wrong with what New York or the New Yorker did here, regardless of intent.
But as perennial National Magazine Award winners, theyâ€™ll never admit it. As David Carey, then-VP and publisher of the New Yorker, said at the time: "The editorial integrity of our product is a big thing."
Post Comment / Discuss This Blog - Info/Rules