Ad Age reports that “a growing number of marketers want to persuade the nation’s print magazines to open the text of their editorial pages to product placements.” I’m not particularly swayed by the moral arguemnts on either side of the issue, but I agree with the editor quoted in the article who feels that blurring the lines between journalistic and marketing content will dilute the power of each:
An editor in chief elsewhere put the commercial argument of church and state in more blunt terms. “Without a visceral relationship with the reader, it’s not going to work,” this editor said. “Don’t be getting in the middle of that” with product placement. “My reader’s gonna say, ‘What’s this [expletive] for?'”
We’re seeing more instances of companies buying their way into storylines — the Bulgari novel, product placements in movies, television, and video games, etc. — but the fact that they may work now doesn’t guarantee that they’ll continue to do so. Over time, the power of such placement dilutes as more companies try the same tactics and viewers/consumers become aware of the process and are jaded. Why rush things along by forcing marketing messages into editorial content?