I guess he doesn’t “get it”

I guess he doesn’t “get it”: (Updated: to add link to the 1984 single-advertiser issue of Newsweek) (From Lewis Lazare, advertising columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, about the New Yorker carrying only advertising from Target in this issue) “It can only be described as the most jaw-dropping collapse of the so-called sacred wall between editorial and advertising in modern magazine history. And it happened this week — of all places — at arguably the country’s most prestigious magazine, the New Yorker.”

Observation: Those who have not studied magazine history are doomed to repeat ridiculous observations like that made by Lazare. (I can recall at least one example off the top of my head — in November, 1984 the post-election issue of Newsweek carried only Apple advertising.) Also, if we have to worry that readers of the New Yorker are not sophisticated enough to understand what is and is not advertising, we’ve got a much bigger problem than this issue.

Transparency: I am a fan of New Yorker publisher David Carey and am in awe of how the New Yorker constantly displays — by being open to ideas from advertisers, and by suggesting ideas to advertisers — how creative and powerful an advertising medium a magazine can be, while maintaining the highest quality of writing and journalism one can find in a national consumer publication.

Update: Pith in the Wind and Nashville is Talking are talking about this. From my vantage point, anything that gets people talking about magazine advertising is a good thing. Target and the New Yorker have obviously scored a big coup if non-magazine wonks are kicking this topic around.

Update: Earlier, I didn’t have time to Google that Newsweek single-advertiser issue and, as they don’t have the type of historic archive Time does, I waited until lunch to look. Not only did I find it, I found someone who saved all the ads from the issue. Think about that for a moment. Someone took the time to scan all the ads from a magazine and place it on their website. And they weren’t confused by all that editorial content in it.

(via: Romenesko)

10 thoughts on “I guess he doesn’t “get it”

  1. I think the Sun-Times is looking for a way to distract from their own troubles this week. What on EARTH does it matter, WHO is advertising? Unless Target execs came and had a sit-down with all the contributors to this issue to explain how great their store is, it has absolutely nothing to do with the edit they’re running.

    Now here’s an interesting argument that you MIGHT make, in a post-lucky world: advertising IS edit. In that case, the wall is gone and his column is also irrelevant.

  2. There are lots of truly disturbing examples of where the lines between advertising and editorial have blurred.
    But the New Yorker/Target campaign isn’t one of them.

  3. I agree with you Paul. Unfortunately, when pundits like Lazare cry “church-state wolf” over what the New Yorker is doing, it makes them hard to listen to on the “truly disturbing” examples.

  4. I think Lazare is so off base here that it’s almost upsetting. Is the entire New Yorker editorial going to be about Target? Doubtful. Is Target going to be mentioned at all in any editorial? Probably not, frankly. What’s the difference between this and running a television show with one sponsor so you don’t have to have as many commercial breaks? I don’t get the issue here.

  5. Good point about crying wolf, Rex. Heck, hip New Yorker readers are such converts to that particular “church” that they might simply be amused (with a conspiratorial wink-wink) if some of the /articles/ mentioned Target — in such a clearly “sponsored” issue. On the other hand, I’m sure Newsweek readers in ’84 all closed the book thinking Macintosh had brought them Reagan. That explains why no liberal artist-types ever bought a Mac. (Heh.) Or perhaps that’s why Mac owners thought of IBM, then Microsoft, as “the evil empire”?

  6. I briefly saw the issue and it didn’t bother me but did puzzle me – when did New Yorker readers become Target’s target demographic?

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