Monday, February 16, 2009

Does House & Home ad track across
the ad:edit line?

[This post has been updated] The March issue of Canadian House and Home contains an example of uncomfortably close alignment between editorial content and advertising.

A regular makeover features a spread about a kitchen, one in which muddy footprints are tracked across the floor. The next spread shows virtually the same right hand page with the footprints cleaned up, a Swiffer mop leaning against the counter and a copy line "Swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning".

This treatment would seem to contravene several provisions of the Canadian magazine advertising-editorial guidelines.
  • An advertiser's name or logo may not be used to suggest advertising sponsorship of any regularly appearing editorial.
  • No advertiser may purchase product placement or mention in editorial pages, photographs or illustrations.
  • Any advertisement that contains text or design elements that have an editorial appearance must be conspicuously identified with the word "advertising'’ or "advertisement."
Ironically, one member of the task force that drew up those guidelines was Kirby Miller, vice-president of sales and operations at House & Home Media, publishers of Canadian House & Home. [Disclosure: I was also a member of that task force.]

[UPDATE: In an e-mail exchange with Mastheadonline, Miller said:
We are proud of the creativity and partnership we have with Starcom and Procter & Gamble's Swiffer and Febreze in our March Issue. In large part it is our key advertisers to thank in this market for our continuing ability to affordably deliver great decorating content to our Canadian subscribers and newsstand purchasers.

House & Home along with the rest of the magazine industry is working hard to remain economically viable in this market. As for the question of our editorial integrity, I humbly reply that I sleep very well at night knowing that our continuing commercial success allows our company to fund Magazines Canada and MagNet which both provide services to smaller publishers across Canada. Also House & Home Media has recently launched a new French title, Maison & Demeure, hired nearly 11 new people and hasn't had a single staff layoff. From the ads are appearing on Mr. Scott's blog it appears that both publishing employment (recruitment ad) and MagNet are important for him as well. It is good to know that we share some common ground on these fronts.]
Marketing magazine reported that the ad was a collaboration between the magazine and the advertising agency.

“What we love about it is that it’s a surprise for the clever reader,” said Christine Saunders, senior vice-president, group media director for P&G agency Starcom MediaVest Group. “You literally do a double take.”

The ad is the result of extensive collaboration between House & Home Media, parent company of Canadian House & Home, and Starcom. Both the advertising and editorial components were photographed by Canadian House & Home’s editorial team.

Canadian House & Home was the perfect partner for this because it’s the most prestigious home decor magazine in Canada,” said Saunders. “[House & Home Media president] Lynda Reeves is the one to look for style trends. We thought if we could pull this off in Canadian House & Home, we could make an impact.”

In November, Transcontinental's Style at Home ( a House & Home competitor) made a similar arrangement with the same advertising agency in which a stitched in acetate overlay allowed a coffee machine to be placed on the counter of one of its kitchen editorial pages.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you spell "short-sighted"?

In the long run, this hurts the magazines who participate in this stuff, and the rest of the magazine community as well.


3:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ann Landers once wrote, "If it feels icky, it probably is."

6:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the worst of this - tricking readers, this stuff is a pain in the butt. You have to create a shoot / lay out a page FOR the ad. There's no way that they're going to retrofit the ad for your happenstance edit page. So basically that whole edit story is not engineered for the reader, it's for the advertiser, and you've lost one of your few page opportunities to delight the reader.

11:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When thumbing through the recent mag I noticed this shameful, greedy decision. Sure lowered my impression of Canadian House & Home. Lie down with dogs you get fleas, not just a dirty floor!

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all very well and good that Mr. Miller can sleep at night by lobbing around non-sequiturs in an attempt to bewilder us, but editorial integrity does not always arrive at the party on the arm of increased revenue. Au contraire, it usually shows up date-less and slightly impoverished. But virtuous.

The message Mr. Miller seems to have taken from this was "I have a family to feed and staff to support, darn it, and because of that I can rationalize having lain with the devil and his (her?) very large bags of money."

I took the same message from it, I just put a different spin on it, one wherein House & Home put its readers' interests in second place, rather than first.

12:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see why anyone is surprised this appeared in Canadian House & Home. The blurring of editorial and advertising has been its trademark since inception. I'm surprised they agreed to participate in the drafting of the CSME's latest ad/edit guidelines. First time the CSME did those, House & Home boycotted the process. Miller's comments are insulting.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disclaimer: I am not a magazine publisher and have no vested interest in the profitability of any magazine. I imagine that publishers would like nothing more than to produce ad-free publications. But the same readers who bristle at these ads are the same ones who wouldn't pay what it actually costs to produce good, high quality content. I'm not encouraging no-holds-barred ad/edit integration, but I can't fault a publisher trying to keep their magazine alive in tough times.

10:30 am  
Blogger joeclark said...

It’s not unreminiscent of Wallpaper[asterisk].

4:42 pm  
Blogger joeclark said...

It’s not unreminiscent of Wallpaper[asterisk].

4:42 pm  

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