As the hardtracking staff has repeatedly noted, Time Inc. is by far the worst offender in the blowtorching of the wall between advertising and editorial.

Representative samples:

Whose Side Is ‘Time’ On?

Time Inc. Has Branded-Video ‘Lightbulb’ Go Off

Time Inc. to Writers: Be Advertiser Friendly – Or Else!

Time Inc.’s Norman Pearlstine Is Two-Timing His Readers

And etc.

Now comes this Advertising Age piece (via Racked):

Time, InStyle Editors Helped Create Print Ads for Google Campaign

Cost Cutting Boosts Profits During Fourth Quarter

Editors at 11 Time Inc. magazines — including Time and InStyle – were put to work on behalf of an advertising campaign for Google’s mobile app last fall, according to Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp.

The move illustrates how quickly the editorial-driven culture at the magazines’ parent company, Time Inc., has shifted in little more than a year.

“Each editor had to come up with two to three questions per issue that were contextually relevant and would get our readers to open the Chrome app on their mobile device and ask Google,” Mr. Ripp told investors Thursday during a call about the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

According to an Ad Age update, “Mr. Ripp meant to refer to the Google app, not Google’s Chrome app” but hey – why get technical about it?

(Sneak Adtack sidebar: That shot of Kerry Washington on the cover of InStyle caused quite a rumpus earlier this month, as people asked questions such as “Why is she white in this picture.” In response, InStyle released this statement: “While we did not digitally lighten Kerry’s skin tone, our cover lighting has likely contributed to this concern. We understand that this has resulted in disappointment and hurt.” Uh-huh. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.)

Ad Age also helpfully provided several examples of what the magazine editors were forced to do.

In a Time magazine article about flags, for instance, the Google ad asked, “OK, Google, how many American flags are there on the moon?” An InStyle story on “The Scandal” collection at clothing store The Limited included the question, “OK, Google, who is the person Olivia Pope is based on?”

The ads ran in a variety of Time Inc. magazines last fall. Company executives wouldn’t talk to Ad Age, but when speaking to the investors, Ripp engaged in his usual gobbledegook: ”Our native initiatives are a natural complement to our creative process and consistent with our commitment to editorial standards and integrity.”

That’s just insulting. Especially to the editors whose journalistic credibility he’s effectively Ripped off.


John R. Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
John R. Carroll has 294 post(s) on Sneak Adtack