Friday, August 19, 2005

Unethical advertising, unprofessional behavior

I suppose things will get worse before they get better.
AdAge has an interesting piece on the growing push by marketers to blur the lines between editorial and advertising. And if we're to believe this article, then part of the move toward unethical behavior is driven not by advertisers, but by publishers.
Take a look at this disturbing section of the article: "Magazine publishers, intent on offering unique programs to attract advertisers, have begun presenting their share of ideas, said Julie Roehm, director of marketing communications for Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler. 'We’ve talked about it several times and had all the big publishers in,' she said."
Ad Age says that the push for product placement in editorial has become so pervasive that the American Society of Magazine Editors is "finding it necessary to confront the issue more fully with more clearly worded guidelines to spell out its position."
Bravo for ASME.
The American Society of Business Publication Editors is also planning to update its ethics guidelines, as discussed here.
ABM updated its code of ethics in March, and the new document is quite clear in its call to divide advertising from editorial.
However, while ABM's guidelines are clear and professional, this post on ABM's blog is something else entirely.
I'm not sure exactly what ABM's spokesman was trying to say. The writing is less than clear. But I think it's fair to read the post as an attack on ASBPE. That's unfortunate. And I was pleased to see that Ira Pilchen, ASBPE's treasurer, responded in a comment on the ABM site.
Look -- there are hundreds of journalists in B2B media who have fought for decades to be treated as professionals, to work with dignity and pride. Holding the line between ad and editorial has been a tough battle for trade journalists -- far more so than in the mainstream press. That battle is getting tougher.
We have never needed the support of our trade associations -- ABM, ASBPE and TABPI -- as much as we do now.
This is a time for the associations to stand together with each other and with us. This is a time for all of us to applaud each and every attempt by an association, a journalist, a publisher or a salesman to do the right thing.

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