The subject of brand integration—the polite term for “product placement”—in magazines came up quite a bit at the American Magazine Conference.
There were plenty of pieties from top magazine executives about the need to ensure the traditional wall between the editorial church and the advertising state. On a panel devoted to the subject, OMD exec Jack Hanrahan came off notably agnostic on the value of embedding product placements in magazine articles.
And the American Society of Magazine Editors released a revised version of its editorial guidelines, which includes the following tenet:
PRODUCT PLACEMENT/INTEGRATION Advertisers should not pay to place their products in editorial pages nor should they demand placement in return for advertising. Editorial pages may display and credit products and tell readers where to buy them, as long as those pages are solely under editorial control.
Noble sentiments, all. But I’d be more convinced that the industry was this serious about it had two veteran senior publishing executives not complained to me, in informal conversations, about the power editors wielded over magazines, and how frustrating it was that this editorial control constrained the ad side from doing more creative plays with advertising.
I leave it to you to discern what ‘creative’ in this context may mean.