Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CENSORSHIP---Selling ads, selling out

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Visit John Adams of Oxford, England. Nice blog...
Ad Age.com recently scooped a story about corporate giants wanting to censor the media.
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.
A spokeswoman for MindShare refused to comment on the memo, calling it a “client matter” and referred calls to BP.


What is astonishing is the blanket prohibition, if a media talks about any energy issue, they first must clear it with BP.

Is this 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.
The executive is lying. Several years ago an organization investigating how cigarette companies affect specifically "lifestyle" magazines found that if a publication accepted cigarette ads or any food ads from corporate giants that sold more than tobacco items the magazine would self censor any stories about the health effects of both tobacco and bad foods.

To become a corporate whore means selling one's self on the street corner. All whores tell their clients they are studs and are wonderful. This is the job of a whore. One of the very saddest things to see is all those women's magazines that are supposedly there to help them live better lives, selling out. I personally track this stuff while standing in line in a supermarket. "Lose weight now!" shout the headlines. Next to this is a photo of some inevitably high calorie dessert. The rising tide of obesity isn't astonishing, this is cultivated carefully. The lifestyle magazine people know they have one job: to sell fattening corporate foods and diet schemes. These evil twin goals resonate with each other. The ad agencies and the magazines both hire trained psychologists who whore themselves, too, to build a trap one can't escape from unless one has steel nerves or simply doesn't buy this stuff at all.
“I think it’s OK to have systems in place to pull advertisers out, but clearly we don’t show them stories ahead of time.” The executive called BP’s policy a "stupid request. It makes you think these guys are hiding something.”
Well, duh. They are hiding something. Goes without saying. And what is the oil company hiding?

Simple. Why does Elaine Supkis write her own newspaper? Same reason. Corporate America, which used to talk to her, interview her and publish her no longer does this because they are terrified of letting people know any real information clearly presented.

Morgan Stanley is worse. They want to precensor content because they are selling lies. Lies about the future. Lies about the economy, lies about the stock market, they want news media to be a cheerleader for things they want and the last thing they want is a truthful explanation about economic issues. Both companies know the editors don't have to call them and clear stories, the editors will kill the last feeble attempts at real news in order to pre-please corporate entities who loom over their shoulders, glaring balefully. This is why the mass media is failing us more and more. As corporate America consolidates increasingly into a hard rock entity as they merge and converge into interlocking monopolies and cartels, they have the power to strangle all and any possible counter reality.

The real news is devolving increasingly into odd places like here and a host of other on line bloggers and liberal news services. Ad Age.com's editors say the right thing here:
The primary reasons for advertisers to invest in any media product should be the bond that product has with its audience and the relevance of that audience as a marketing target. Such relationships are often based on trust and credibility. Tools such as ad-pull policies can damage that credibility. They make clear to editors and publishers that if they don't create an editorial environment friendly to a marketer's message, the money will go elsewhere.
Marketers should encourage media outlets to serve audiences first, not advertisers. Those that attract the right audience should get the ad dollars. Shame on anyone who believes otherwise.
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