The Atlantic’s Scientology advertorial proves audience is awake

  1. Screengrab from the Atlantic's Scientology advertorial
    Screengrab from the Atlantic’s Scientology advertorial

    I suppose it seemed like a good idea to the folks in advertising at the time: The Atlantic receives a sum of money to write a glowing piece on the controversial Church of Scientology.

    The Atlantic has since taken the down the post, but you can see the Google cache of it (thanks to @fnkey for that) here:
  2. The outcry on Twitter was almost immediate. Why would the Atlantic, known for its journalistic integrity, choose to run such a story on its site as regular content. To note: it included the label ‘sponsor content’, but this wasn’t enough.

    Soon after it was posted, some readers noted that comments on the story were moderated, unlike other stories, which had comments posted immediately.
    As some form of damage control, @TheAtlantic RT’ed a tweet by Senior Editor Alexis Madrigal, promoting a book written by one of its writers will soon release on Scientology.
  3. It was obvious to some.
  4. Did @TheAtlantic decide to run a glowing promotion of Lawrence Wright’s book before or after the Scientology ad uproar?
  5. But it was too late. The audience was furious. This is what I find so positive about the Scientology advertorial – albeit at The Atlantic’s expense – readers are not satisfied with pure dreck.

    Readers demand more than Lady Gaga and the latest on Kim Kardashian’s behind from trusted sources. And if they don’t feel a trusted source of information is behaving appropriately, the community calls them on it.
    Sometimes, with humour.  A spoof @TheAtlanticAds twitter account was created (complete with Pepsi logo in the corner), and the satire flew.
  6. Those Ideal Church openings do look pretty cool though right. Streamers, balloons.
  7. The landslide of criticism was too much, and 12 hours after posting the Scientology advertorial, the magazine killed the post and released a statement on the debacle.
  8. Briefly, it stated: “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

    This backtrack then became news, and the sour taste remained …
  9. The Atlantic backtracks and removes controversial Scientology advertorial, by @jonrussell…
  10. @TheAtlantic ran puff sponsored by #Scientology then moderated comments to ensure positive remarks. MT @NiemanLabFuego:
  11. RT @wilto: Hey, @TheAtlantic—is Scientology there, right now? Are you in trouble? BLINK TWICE AND WE WILL SEND FOR HELP.
  12. Still, some were sympathetic to The Atlantic’s position, and understood the media’s need to try new revenue sources.
  13. @justin_butlion And hope publishers ignore the ad whiners and try creative new monetization sources (like @theatlantic‘s sponsored content).
  14. Some offered help with damage control.
  15. @TheAtlantic Quick issues management tip, guys – tell it fast and tell it all. My feeling is this CoS thing is going to be big.
  16. Others weren’t so forgiving.
  17. I subscribed to @TheAtlantic this year. It had already been a disappointing experience in terms of editorial content. This is sickening.
  18. Sponsored content is a reality. As a reader, easy to avoid. Like how not taking money from a cult is for most people, right @TheAtlantic?
  19. RT @EricKleefeld: And THAT’S why you don’t carry sponsored content that’s made to look just like regular posts.
  20. RT @joshtpm: Feel like @TheAtlantic‘s new game theory experiment to probe/isolate boundaries of sponsored content advert model has been wild success.

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