There are two wake-up calls awaiting wine and food publications once the Press Ombudsman’s revised Press Code comes into effect. The one concerning freebies ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ accepting and dishing out ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ has been discussed. The other one deals with the advertising issue.
What? Advertisements becoming illegal? No. However, the relationship between editorial content and commercial interests in the media,will be more closely monitored, and it is high bloody time.
Let me illustrate: certain publications in the game of wine and food writing seem to be unaware that Editorial and Advertising are two different disciplines. The former is the “story”, the copy written about the topic with which the publication aims to inform and entertain readers, readers being those people purchasing the publication.
The Advertisements are those colourful chunks of space with slogans enthusing the merits of a specific product in the hope that those people who bought the publication for information and entertainment may just spot the advertisement and purchase the product.
Of course, most people are not idiots and realise the need for advertisements. They supply the cash that keeps the magazine going.
The problem is when the border between Advertisements and Editorial is not clearly recognised by the publication. This occurs when wineries, hotels or restaurants are given the message by a publication that they will only be reviewed, visited, scrutinised for editorial coverage if the relevant business also places an advertisement.
Can this be? Yes, indeed.
Upon issuing a media release to certain publications one is told that it won’t be looked as the winery or hotel “has not advertised with us”. Forget about the fact that this media release might contain information interesting and relevant to the readers who purchase the publication, an act they engage in to read copy more than look at advertisements.
There is another tactic. This comes into play when advertising representatives hustle for advertisements. “Place and advertisement with us, and I’ll make sure you get some free editorial, hey.” In this situation one can place an advertisement of a toothbrush holder, and ensure that your product gets extra unpaid for editorial space, boring the hell out of the reader, but keeping the bean counters happy.
Having been privy to the new Press Code, these kind of practices will be a thing of the past. As it should be: editorial is editorial and advertising is advertising. As far as I’m concerned, employees in these different disciplines shouldn’t even share the same staff bathroom.
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