BPA has announced the winner of its second annual house-ad contest. Participating companies create a house ad campaign that touts the value of the third-party audit, in this case, obviously, BPA’s audit.

The winner this year [pictured] is Grand View Media Group. The Birmingham, Alabama-based company created an ad featuring an image of a Groucho Marx mask with the tagline, “Wondering What the ‘Other Guys’ Are Trying to Hide?”

The blurb beneath says, in part, “Being BPA audited means not hiding behind silly disguises. No handshake guarantees that you’re getting what you paid for.”

I strongly believe in the third-party audit, and I think BPA is a fine organization. But their campaign leaves me with the feeling that their house-ad contest, as well as their satellite Web site, only serves to weaken print media in general. What BPA is saying is that any print magazine that doesn’t have their stamp of approval is suspect and could be cheating you, the advertiser.

I believe that a clean BPA or ABC audit is a valuable selling point. But I’m not at all prepared to say non-audited print magazines are potential cheaters. There are thousands of non-audited magazines, many of which have legitimate reasons for foregoing an audit. The vast majority are solid, reputable businesses.

There’s no need to cast unjustified aspersions on non-audited media in order to underscore the value of an audit. Not to mention, from a BPA point of view, that these campaigns can’t possibly be ginning up lists of eager prospects for the bureau.

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