Advertising And Editorial To Live Happily Ever After

Until now, I’ve never heard of Tyler Brûlé and his magazine, Monocle. I know, I know, I need to get out more.
Interestingly, tough-nosed David Carr of The New York Times has heard of him and he makes the man and his $10-an-issue-magazine sound grand. Of course, I’m a big fan of finding sponsors for worthy content.

In the September issue there is a large insert on Singapore, with a survey paid for by its government and several large companies there, but articles generated by the magazine staff. Mr. Brûlé dismisses talk of conflicts as a false choice. But of course, when someone runs a magazine and runs his own ad agency, you have to wonder which hat he wears when.
“Rather than some boozy lunch with editors and sponsored parties, we cut right to the chase. We have editorial integrity, we don’t accept freebies and we make the final decision about what is worthy,” he said. “But as publisher and editor, I’m part of the religious and secular worlds, and I make the decision. No offense, but I think the whole church-and-state thing is a very tired, U.S. concept.”

It’s funny, both the ad industry and the printed content business are reeling. And one answer for both problems is making ads look, act and feel more like editorial.
Both sides need to go for it. Who exactly has a problem with blending advertising and editorial anyway? Who out there is sheltered enough to actually think news organizations (or lifestyle magazines, as the case may be) don’t have a point-of-view to sell? The idea that media organizations do not sell a particular POV is absurd, as is the concept of objective reporting. There’s fair, thorough and professional reporting–which I salute. But there’s no such thing as a media organization without a POV.
As for the ad biz, one of the things good ad men and women do is bring a strong POV to the brands in their stable. I’m arguing that a great way to deliver a strong POV today is through branded content projects. It’s like this–if you want to sell, you need romance and a compelling story. Without these key ingredients, a brand has what, a nice logo, some clever ads? Who cares? To connect with people brands need to go deeper and content is the way.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.