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Star magazine, which has gotten into trouble before for blurring the lines between advertising and journalism, has done it again.
The latest issues of Star and sister publication In Touch ran a full-page ad for cosmetics retailer Sephora that was designed to look like editorial copy without warning readers that it was paid advertising content, sources said. Both mags hit newsstands on Thursday.
The error, sources said, appeared to be the result of a last-minute update and had been fixed before hitting other celebrity magazines owned by A360 Media, including OK!, which affixed the word “promotional” in the ad’s upper left-hand corner.
A spokesman for A360 declined to comment.
Running advertorial copy as editorial copy is considered a big no-no in the publishing world and could attract unwanted attention from watchdogs like the Federal Trade Commission, the National Advertising division of the Better Business Bureau and the American Society of Magazine Editors.
Star had its knuckles rapped several years ago for plugging an ad for Slim Fast on the cover and in the paper without acknowledging that it was marketing material.
“Joanne lost 40 lbs! Snack away the weight!,” read the 2016 cover reference alongside a story about Justin Timberlake’s marriage to Jessica Biel.
The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau at the time ruled that both the cover reference and the article, “appeared to be editorial content but were in fact advertisements for SlimFast.”
Ever since then, the company, formerly known as American Media has tried to be super diligent to avoid another reprimand, sources said.
The latest error, sources added, was caused when the advertiser made a last-minute switch in the art work. The removed copy had a small sign in the upper left hand corner identifying the ad as “promotional.” But when the art was swapped out, a new disclaimers wasn’t added before the issues went to press.
The ads were for a product called Make-Up Eraser and included a story that billed them as a “chemical-free alternative to make-up.” Without the required disclaimer that this was promotional copy, the ad might be mistaken as an independent endorsement by the mags’ editors.
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