A new trend seems to be emerging in the media, and I don’t like it.
Maxim magazine is the latest to do it. I have a subscription, and the August issue isn’t out in stores yet. But if you look to the picture to the right, you’ll see this month’s cover (scroll down the post a little bit, and you’ll see what this month’s cover should be).
Instead of the normal cover, it’s an ad for 5-hour energy.
I’m guessing the front page ad is only for subscriptions, because I don’t think they’ll sell a lot of issues if the real cover isn’t there.
I’m in the media, and I understand the need to be looking for new methods to make a profit, but I’ve always disagreed with messing with the front page.
The front page is supposed to be the link that makes people want to buy/read your newspaper/magazine.
Now, Maxim isn’t the first to do it. The Los Angeles Times did it last month, using a full front page ad to advertise for True Blood, a HBO series about vampires. A community newspaper did it a month or so ago for a major grocery store.
But what happens if something majot breaks? I think that’s where it starts to get dicey. Are there clauses (at least for the daily newspapers) that say they can scrap the front-page ad if that happens?
In the L.A. Times edition, it was the day after the Lakers won the NBA championship. So instead of seeing a celebrating Lakers team, readers saw the vampire. I wonder how many people that bought the paper at a store or in a street box bought the competition that had the Lakers on the front?
The other downside is the fact the front page ad has the paper’s masthead over it. So it looks like the paper is supporting the ad. If the Times gives True Blood a good review (and is one of the view that does), how many people will question whether it’s because HBO paid so much money for a front-page ad? Does the paper’s integrity start to wane in some readers’ minds?
That’s the problem. It’s not just that newspapers need to keep up their integrity, but they also need to keep up the illusion of integrity.
As for Maxim, I find there’s enough problems with their subscription service without having to add this to it (for example, they were supposed to send the magazine in a plastic bag for me so the address strip wouldn’t appear on the cover — they didn’t; I also don’t get any of the extras that you get when you buy it at a store, such as a calendar included).
In the end, it’s a sad reflection on the state of journalism.