Archive for the ‘Ethics in Media’ Category

Separation of Church and State: Editorial Verses Advertising in Marie Claire

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

I recently perused the Richard Edelman – 6 A.M blog drawn in by an entry recapping his breakfast meeting with Marie Claire Publisher Nancy Cardone.  Cardone considers Marie Claire, a magazine with 1,000,000 subscribers, to be “the most affluent of the fashion and beauty books.”

The business model she outlined was impressive but I have to take issue with the fifth prong of her model quoted below:

“Fifth, there will be more editorial focus in coming issues, such as the May issue on Global Beauty. The cross-promotion of the content ranges from tweets on Twitter to short-form video on TaxiTV in New York city cabs. “Ying Chu, our Beauty editor, selected the 25 Best Beauty products. We did a two minute film in which she discussed the products, which cost us about $5,000, and put it on TaxiTV. Many of our advertisers saw it and were thrilled with the exposure,”

After I read this paragraph I reread it because initially the prong had to do with “more editorial focus” but she wraps up saying her advertisers were thrilled with the exposure.  So then isn’t it really an advertorial not straight objective editorial reporting?  I think her key demographic — college educated women are going to notice when advertisers are getting the star treatment in Marie Claire’s “editorial.”

Isn’t one of the main reasons readers are turning to a magazine like Marie Claire is for objective research, review and recommendations of beauty products. If Marie Claire is the most affluent of the beauty and fashion books doesn’t it owe its readers a true accounting in its editorial?  So what are these 25 Best Beauty products? Are they really some of the best?  How did they get picked as the best?  Was it on the merits of their advertising budget or did someone actually try them out and compare them with other brands?

If it was a creative promotion for advertisers it is a brilliant use of social media and new media outlets like TaxiTV but if that is the case please don’t call it “editorial.” I think it is a slippery slope when you start blurring the lines.