Women’s Wear Daily (not my usual breakfast reading matter) has raised the issue of magazine podcasting ethics separating advertising and editorial after Marie Claire’s Unilever-sponsored “The Masthead With Marie Claire” podcast featured repeated mentions of the company’s products.
“sponsored by Unilever with occasional chipping in by Diesel as “patron.” … Nearly every one of the eight segments so far has prominently featured Unilever beauty products in scenes with the magazine’s editors, and the most recent one included footage of the Diesel New York show, with Marie Claire fashion director Tracy Taylor explaining in the podcast, “What I love about Diesel….”
The article goes on to quote American Society of Magazine Editors board member Jacob Weisberg as saying “[Advertising] can’t include the editors and shouldn’t be produced by the editors.”
Of course fashion and women’s magazines have never been renowned for their editorial integrity or independence. And Marie Claire seem to think they can avoid the issue by claiming “ASME guidelines do not extend to podcasts and Webisodes.”
“‘The Masthead With Marie Claire’ is a podcast that is designed as a television show produced for the Web. From reality shows such as ‘The Apprentice’ to scripted shows like ‘The Office,’ brand integration is the norm.”
Marlene Kahan, executive director of ASME, disagrees. “The general codes do apply” to digital productions by members, she says.
“All online pages should clearly distinguish between editorial and advertising or sponsored content,” the ASME guidelines read. “A magazine’s name or logo should not be used in a way that suggests editorial endorsement of an advertiser. The site’s sponsorship policies should be clearly noted, either in text accompanying the article or on a disclosure page, to clarify that the sponsor had no input regarding the content.”
Seems pretty clear to me.