Sunday, October 31, 2010

Untruth in Labeling

Original Butter? That's Just Un-Wise, Wise

Amid the kids' Halloween booty yesterday was a snack-sized bag of Wise popcorn with "Original Butter." Because you wouldn't want your butter to be accused of being a copycat.
Turns out "Original Butter" is something else entirely, as right under that label on the package is the disclaimer "artificially flavored."
That means "Original Butter" is something else, as the nutrition label indicateds. But there's no butter. Not even close.
So, it appears the FTC allows a company to call a product whatever it wants, as long as it's upfront about what it's not. "Original Butter" is just a name for a flavor. Despite common sense, it doesn't connote that there's actual butter, just the appearance of such. It's not dishonest, just disingenuous.

New York Post Should be Sacked for Cheap Tease on Eli Manning

It's One Thing to Get Readers to Turn the Page. It's Another to Have Something There When You Do

I'm not a regular reader of The New York Post print edition, but if someone decides to leave a copy on the train, I'm only too happy to pick it up, me being a foe of litter and all.
That happened to me on my home Friday night. Uncharacteristically, I work my way back to the sports section instead of my usual vice versa. Most of page 3 is taken up with a photo of Giants QB Eli Manning and his wife Abby, who the cutline tell us are "young rich and famous." Duh.
It goes on: "They are sports royalty in demand for social and charity events. He led the Giants to the 2008 Super Bowl championship, and she's the beautiful cheerleader who's been by his side since they were kids. It would seem that they've got it all, but do they?"
Uh, oh. This is a Page Six exclusive!!!!! It was almost Halloween, after all, so time to cue the skeletons to come out of the closet. A breathless dash to page 14, that day's home for Page Six, which reveals that Eli may be throwing Hail Mary's into a Diaper Genie before long. If all goes well, baby will make three in the spring. Mazel tov.
So, the answer to the above question is a resounding yes. The Post wanted us to believe otherwise, but we had little choice to fall for it hook, line, and screen pass. Still in all, they should be whistled for a journalistic cheap shot, even by the Post's shaky standards.

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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Cablevision-Fox Spat, Newspapers Come Out the Winner

Rupert Murdoch Helps Contribute to the New York Times' Bottom Line

Now that Cablevision and Fox are about to enter their fourth day of a standoff that's resulted in 3 million cable customers in the New York area without local channels 5 and 9--it's beginning to get a little tense (though not in my house, where all is harmonious with DirecTV).
This has become a big-time hissy fit over retransmission fees with nobody winning the PR war. But both sides sure as hell are trying. And spending a fortune on full-page ads in the process. Collectively, they've dropped a healthy six-figure sum at The New York Times alone. The local tabs and Cablevision-owned Newsday have also gotten their share.
That means Fox grand poobah Rupert Murdoch is dumping valuable cash into the arms of his competition--remember, he also owns the New York Post, while the cable blackout rages on.
That's may be why you don't see any editorials calling on both sides to go to binding arbitration to ensure Cablevision homes can watch the World Series, especially if the Yankees can make it past the Rangers.
Because, hey, there's always the radio. And tomorrow's newspaper to read all about it.