Years ago I remember being disturbed by a book called Subliminal Seduction that described various insidious ways advertisers secretly delivered their messages. Examples included persuasive pictures hidden in larger photographs and suggestive words briefly flashing in otherwise harmless messages.
Today the tactics are more in our faces. Product placements are big business. While no one seems overly shocked to see Coke cups in front of the judges on American Idol, I think that McDonald's latest ploy is very troubling. In recent weeks McDonald's coffee cups have been appearing on television news anchor desks at the FOX affiliates in Las Vegas (see photo above), Seattle and Chicago, on Univision 41 station in New York City. That's right. Paid product placements are appearing on news segments, not just entertainment shows.
Viewers are being tricked into thinking that paid placements are actually endorsements.
Whatever happened to the separation of editorial and advertising? The fine line is becoming very blurred. I hope that you are as concerned and skeptical as I am.