A Reuters report in this morning’s Globe and Mail describes changes introduced by Morgan Stanley and their ad agency into the contracts they’re proposing to use in booking print advertising. “Under the policy, Morgan Stanley wants publishers to tell it about any objectionable stories that will be run in their newspaper or magazine,” according to Reuters’ sources.
The clear implication is that the mighty Morgan Stanley is threatening to pull lucrative advertising from any publications running stories critical of the firm.
On one hand, I say, "Well the imaginary wall between editorial and advertising in MSM publications has just been outed as the less-than-pure facade it has been--and good." On the other hand, I say, "How dare Morgan Stanley apply editorial pressure through ad dollars." On the other hand, I wonder if these new policies/disclaimers are becoming more common than we know. On the other hand, how fun to work in Issues and Crisis on the PR side during a time when you can make such demands. On the same hand, I think this is representative of the undeniable loss of power of the mainstream media. In the end, these are corporations making demands upon one another that will wind up with them either doing business together or not.
If I were a Morgan Stanley competitor, I would write and publish my own OPEN AD POLICY right now that would read the exact oposite of this--stating that in no way do we tie our ad dollars to reporting/news stories, that we trust our customers and stakeholders to use their intelligence and judgment in what they read, that some things they read may be critical of our organization. Many more will testify to our success.
In other words--the best opportunity here is lies with the organizations competing with those making such demands.
And, if I were the publications in question, I'd say no. Opening the door to MORE Morgan Stanleys would forever rewrite my editorial policy.
Might as well have PR flacks write the news. (Oh, wait a minute!)
So, what would YOU do?