The Atlantic’s Scientology Ad That Masquerades As Content
Yes, advertising and journalism have long been strange bedfellows. Yes, print outlets publishing long-form ads which appear to be ordinary stories is nothing new either. However, this strikes me as a new low: an advertisement painstakingly designed to mimic content on The Atlantic’s site.
From the tweet counter at the top, to the ads designed to appear to be related pro-Scientology stories on the sidebar, to the comments section at the bottom (thoughtfully stocked with praise for Scientology), this page has absolutely been created to fool anyone who misses the relatively small box revealing this as “sponsor content” that this is a piece created by the staff of The Atlantic.
Again, I have seen all kinds of magazines publish all kinds of advertising. However, this is the very first time an ad has made me feel like I need to take a hot shower…and seriously reconsider my subscription. Am I overreacting?
UPDATE! The ad has now been “suspended pending a review”, so here is a screen capture so you can get some idea of what the fuss was about:
And a link to Gawker’s take on this which features a screen grab of the thing in full:
ANOTHER UPDATE! Either I wasn’t overreacting or I wasn’t the only one doing so. The Atlantic has apologized:
We screwed up. Our statement on the Scientology advertisement that appeared on our website: theatln.tc/W8Igi0