Custom publishing update – controversy department: For three years on this weblog, I have repeatedly marveled at the skills of Abercrombie & Fitch marketers to produce controversial custom publishing projects seemingly designed to generate publicity by creating protests from church groups. So it is only fitting that I blog this Editor & Publisher report on the backlash to a custom publishing project developed by the kind of church group that usually protests anything coming from A-F. Both Sides Magazine was distributed as a paid insert in 200,000 zoned issues of Sunday’s Washington Post (but not the metro edition). The magazine which, according to E&P, espsouses “a strong argument against gay marriage,” is described on its website as “an outreach ministry of Grace Christian Church” of Woodbridge, Va. According to E&P, it has generated “more than 1,000 e-mails and phone calls, according to Ombudsman Michel Getler, who said most of the comments opposed the publication as offensive.”
“They were overwhelmingly negative about the Post distributing this thing,” Getler told E&P, noting that many of the responses were from outside the Post circulation area, indicating a formal campaign against the publication may have begun. “People were upset and they let the paper know.”…Although the publication was clearly marked as advertising in several locations, and carried a note on the second page stating it “is not a product of the Washington Post,” newspaper officials said it drew an angry reaction from many readers. “It is not something everyone agreed with,” said Publisher Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., who said the advertisers had a right to pay for placement of their viewpoint. “I’m not going to say I agree with it, but it is a case where we went through the vetting process.
It appears all sides are learning how to play this controvery marketing custom publishing game.