Did you catch the brouhaha last week over the LA Times ad for NBC’s new cop drama “Southland”? Seems it was listed on Page One of the paper, separated by a border, in a different font and marked as an advertisement – but it still looked and read a bit like editorial (it mentioned “this reporter” following police on a night that ends in a shooting.) At the end of the article, they listed the air date and time for the new show.
They say this stretched the boundaries and also innovated with a new type of advertising, a la product placement. I have to admit to being a little torn about this one.
The marketer in me loves that they found a new, innovative way to market the series that is true to the brand and what it is about – real, gritty, violent, newsworthy. And the fact that everyone is talking about it means NBC got even more PR mileage out of it. But the citizen in me is a bit outraged that we are now resorting to masquerading advertising as editorial – as if we don’t have enough of so called “journalists” in our society serving merely as political mouthpieces and promoters (Fox News, anyone?) Feels a little lazy – can’t we innovate in ways that don’t taint real news? I feel like we gotta draw the line somewhere.
What do you think? Innovative and appropriate marketing or lazy and irresponsible markting?