By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
Some big news surfaced yesterday on the communications front. As detailed in this article originally published in Advertising Age, an iconic Chicago-based company known for creating some of the best-known equity characters in advertising history has teamed up with a relatively new but extremely influential digital aggregator and blogger of news and commentary.
Their goal, as stated in the article is “to develop strategies and then produce content for the ad agency’s clients.” (And, of course, to make lots of money in the process.)
Or, in other words: The ad agency that created Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna and the Marlboro Man now joins forces with writers from the top-ranked digital media empire to draft and distribute paid media messages. Or in other words, write what used to be called “advertorials,” or articles that are paid for, just like TV, radio, digital, print, transit and other advertisements.
On HuffPo, as the site is known, and other online platforms, paid content is identified by a “sponsored link” disclaimer.
So what’s my take-away from this development? Here are two thoughts:
1. Makes Sense. In this ever-increasing digital age, competition is fierce for an audience’s time and attention. I trust
the HuffPo content writers have the skills to draft content that generates visits that lead to sales. The creatives at Burnett know their clients and their products and services.
2. Divide and Conquer. Both companies are businesses, and business should make a profit. So, why not consolidate forces to produce a better product? After all, there are plenty of ways a company can spend money to influence the consumer or business audience.
But, I wonder if this partnership will prompt other communications firms — be they advertising, traditional or digital
media, and of course, public relations firms — to do the same. And, if so, will a company lose sight of its focus, its true mission?
Will lines of communication in regards to the originator become more blurred when disseminated to the target audience?
Stay tuned, but I’d like to put the late, legendary Mr. Leo Burnett in a room with the very much alive Arianna Huffington and get their perspectives.