New York Times ads leverage brand Gawker-style


nytimes1.jpgADOTAS — The line between news editorial and advertisement gets blurrier every day on the web.

Take Gawker. Prompted by what appeared to be a straight forward press release, Alley insider reported that the media company acqured a blog called Later it was discovered that the news was fake and part of a “viral” campaign by HBO for a show. Gawker was leveraging its brand for use in an advertisiment.

Now it’s true that readers don’t really go to Gawker for the news value; they want to feel superior to others, regardless if the information is true, a rumor or just good enough of a lie to be worth posting. People go to the Times to get the truth. (I hear critics spitting up their coffee, but it’s true.) So how far does the Times go to leverage its brand without crossing the line?

According to Forbes, an Intel spot, which was designed in part by the Times’ ad sales team, used the newspaper’s own brand in the actual marketing message. A Times front page rolled over readers’ screens, revealing a date from the year 2040 and a headline, “President converses with dolphin, develops new environmental plan.” Readers who clicked on the strange article were sent to the homepage of Intel.

News media brands need to be held to a different standard than other brands. The Times brand stands for more than just some product being sold over the counter. It stands for a trusted news site. Links into content, takeover ads, videos, interactive advertisement, etc should all be far game in an industry that is grasphing for ad dollars. But the wall between Gawker leveraging its brand and the Times experiment is not as thick as it once was.

— Express your opinion, comment below.


  1. I get it, but does the roll over demonstrate user “opting in” to advertiser content? Once a user makes that choice, I think they are taking a step to the advertiser’s world, and it up to the advertiser to capture their prospective customer’s interest and support their brand. It only happens 1 or 2% of the time.

    I’d be more inline with the criticism if the debate is whether a roll over is enough of a step into the advertiser’s world to represent a user’s true intention. What if your rollover had to hold for 3 seconds, for 5? Is it more kosher then?

  2. The simple fact that the brand is included in the piece is potentially exploitive. It’s less a question of The NYT being held to a higher standard or being seen as a role model than their decision to exploit their brand recognition. At the end of the day, they have to live with the potential erosion of their brand’s credibility.

    Hey, Charles Barkley said it best; “…I am not a role model.”

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