As the hardtracking staff has relentlessly noted, branded content/sponsored posts/native advertising are like kudzu – a serious invasive plant. Once it takes root, kudzu invariably overwhelms the environment it inhabits.

Exhibit Umpteen, via the Nieman Journalism Lab: A mattress company is starting an online publication devoted to sleep.

MediaBistro’s Help Wanted ad.

Got that, all you workflow masters who live for the style guide but also protect the writer’s voice? Your future lies at Casper, a mattress company that produces a bed that loves you back. (The company is also looking for a staff writer and a social media editor.) 

The whole thing is the perfect metaphor for stealth marketing: It lulls you to sleep, then colors your dreams.

Of course, as long as you wake refreshed, you don’t really care, do you?

But maybe you should.

The more advertising masquerades as editorial content, the less credible all content becomes. Like kudzu, stealth marketing overwhelms the environment it inhabits.

And then advertising inhabits us even more than it already does.

As any number of media analysts have noted, commercial messages are already the lingua franca of American culture. It would be a shame if State of the Cuisinart marketing made advertising the only language we speak.

John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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