Innovative Ads – One Step Too Far?

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?

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