Choke Me In The Shallow Water Before I Get Too Deep

Scott Donaton, Editor of AdAge, says, “I am a realistic and close observer of the advertising business, and understand the pressures marketers and media sellers face in their bid to attract and retain consumers’ attention. But I’m also a content creator whose primary role is to protect my brand’s most important asset: its relationship with readers. Smart editors get this. Their defense of editorial integrity isn’t some knee-jerk reaction against advertising. It’s good business.
I earn my pay at a company that values editorial ethics above all else. But for many others in consumer and business media, pressure to shape content to suit advertisers’ needs is a day-to-day dilemma.”
Donaton speaks of the pressure felt by some editor’s to accept “product placement” in the sacrosanct editorial pages of the reputable magazine or newspaper they work for.
Which leads me here. A.J. Liebling said, “Fortune swims, not with the mainstream of letters, but in the shallows, where the suckers moon.”
I’m comfortable blurring all such editorial lines in this space. I don’t see product placement as slumming (not that slumming’s all bad…see Liebling’s thinking above), in quite the way Donaton does. I see it as a more natural bond, like commerce and art, content and selling can, and do, go hand-in-hand. Fighting it seems to me, more tilting at windmills, much in the manner of Hollywood’s response to peer-to-peer networks.
Am I willing to label it “Advertising” or in some way make it obvious that I’m pimping a product or a service? I guess so, if it matters to you. What matters to me is making it good. Making it work.



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.