• ASME Standing Against Magazine Product Placements
  • October 29, 2003
  • Law Firm: Hall Dickler LLP - Office
  • Ad Age reported on October 20, 2003 that the magazine industry is struggling with the blending of editorial and advertising, deciding where to draw the line when it comes to the dividing line between entertainment and product marketing. "There's more confusion than ever," claims Mark Whitaker, editor of Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek and vice president of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME).

    Ad Age reported on October 20, 2003 that ASME is fielding an increasing number of calls from members seeking advise on the intersection of editorial and advertising. "ASME has received more concerns from our editorial membership about their or other magazines [over] what they think are violations," said Susan Ungaro, ASME president and editor in chief of Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Family Circle. ASME maintains Guidelines for Editorial and Advertising Pages.

    ASME has issued warning letters this year to Wenner Media's Rolling Stone and Rodale's Prevention for providing editorial content that complimented or mirrored advertisements. For Rolling Stone, the controversy centers on the August 7, 2003 issue which features Angelina Jolie on the cover. That same issue of Rolling Stone featured a three-page ad for Jeep featuring Jolie as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. For Prevention, it was a "tips" box in an editorial supplement that mentioned Pfizer's Alzheimer's drug Aricept, the advertising sponsor of the supplement.

    Why This Matters: While self-regulation by ASME is certainly the preferred manner in which to approach this debate, everyone involved must be careful that restrictions do not stifle creativity, particularly when there is little research that proves consumers are in fact confused by the distinction.