Sunday, October 31, 2010

Barron's Bearish on Its Integrity

Just Because You Call It An Ad Doesn't Make It Right

While thumbing through this week's issue of Barron's, a curious and disturbing site awaits on page 21 below a short item about a possible successor to Warren Buffett: an ad.
Not just any ad, but one for a company called, a firm that plies its wares to the alpha dogs known as day traders.
It's not the product that's being sold that's problematic. Rather, the ad--notwithstanding the fact that at its top has the disclaimer "paid advertisement," looks like an article with the exact font and typeface Barron's uses for its own articles.
Of course, advertorial designed to look like regular copy is a time-honored ploy. But graphically, it's almost always dissimilar enough for even the most-casual readers to figure out that The New York Times didn't just do a gushing profile on Amish heaters.
Barron's, however, is calling signals from a different playbook. Even if it doesn't hide the fact the space has been paid for, the ad still leaves a big stink. It's the kind of questionable tactic you might read about in a publication, say, like Barron's.
Well, maybe not anymore.

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