Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Misadventures in Adcopy #5 - Special "News" Edition

Metro is a free, daily newspaper distributed along the public transit lines of several major metropolis. Since last year they've been engaged in a blitz marketing campaign for a company called Acushakti, which has taken all of the health benefits of a bed of nails, and mass produced it in plastic. They've had weekly ads, including several full pages, and one day when Metro had the front and back cover printed to look like an Acushakti mat. Honestly, I thought that was a nifty marketing ploy.

But what's not nifty, in fact is unacceptable, are the articles that Metro has published about Acushakti. I’ve seen three in the mywellbeing section since December, and while I know Metro isn’t the gold standard in journalistic excellence and integrity (I can’t seem to find Metro’s Journalistic Code of Ethics), the About section of their website states, “colorful features are presented without any bias.” I’m disappointed that Metro can’t recognize the inherent bias of using articles to promote one of their advertisers.

The New York Times, which does have an accessible ethical code, calls these “advertorials.” And what’s the news being reported in today's article entitled Study: Nail mats 'do tackle muscle pain'? According to one of the doctors cited in the article, Dr. Anette Kjellgren, “additional pain (from the mat) filters out the competing pain.”

Yeah, I know, like how whenever I have a toothache I’ve found that being punched, hard, in the nose, makes me barely care about the toothache. Leaving aside the conflict of interest, or the somewhat simplistic results of the study, since when is an unpublished “scientific” study newsworthy?

When the value of spike mats for pain reduction is confirmed in a study published in a peer reviewed journal, that might be news, at least for another newspaper that hasn’t sold been running full page and larger Acushakti ads for months.

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