Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Two's a Trend

I guess this means we can assume any publication carrying these ads has agreed to the policy:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Days after financial services giant Morgan Stanley informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing "objectionable editorial coverage," global energy giant BP has adopted a similar press strategy.

According to a copy of a memo on the letterhead of BP's media-buying agency, WPP Group's MindShare, the global marketer has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward negative editorial coverage. The memo cites a new BP policy document entitled "2005 BP Corporate-RFP" that demands that ad-accepting publications inform BP in advance of any news text or visuals they plan to publish that directly mention the company, a competitor or the oil-and-energy industry.


One former publisher and longtime magazine industry executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that “magazines are not in the financial position today to buck rules from advertisers” and predicted that such moves will continue.


Both broad and quite specific, the directives range from notifying the media agency prior to running any editorial that contains fuel, oil or energy news text or visuals to providing the agency the option to pull any advertising from the issue without penalty. If the ad cannot be pulled, then the agency “must receive notification immediately of the situation in order to alert BP and to manage the situation proactively,” the memo said. It also states that if MindShare is not notified of the mentions prior to the issue’s on-sale date, immediate advertising schedule suspension will “likely result.”

One executive familiar with the situation said that “this is not the first time the agency has done this on behalf of BP,” but seemed to suggest some aspects of it may be new.

Another magazine executive who had not heard about BP’s policy or of Morgan Stanley’s said his company has unwritten guidelines with advertisers from several industries, including auto, airlines and tobacco, to pull their ads if related negative stories are in the issue. These cases, the executive said, occur more with news magazines than lifestyle ones.

Who knew this was common? Maybe we should convene a panel on blogger ethics and put a stop to this stuff! Just the other day we were being lectured in the pages of the New York Times on that titanium wall which exists between the advertising and editorial departments in all those respectable publications:
Many bloggers make little effort to check their information, and think nothing of posting a personal attack without calling the target first - or calling the target at all. They rarely have procedures for running a correction. The wall between their editorial content and advertising is often nonexistent. (Wonkette, a witty and well-read Washington blog, posts a weekly shout-out inside its editorial text to its advertisers, including partisan ones like Democrats.org.) And bloggers rarely disclose whether they are receiving money from the people or causes they write about.