CBC’s Mesley takes on advertorials in Brule’s new mag

Brule Mesley The National

Advertorials, a controversial trend in print journalism, were debated Monday night in an interview on CBC’s The National.  Wendy Mesley, in an arts and entertainment segment,  took on Tyler Brule, of Wallpaper* fame during an interview about the editor’s new publication. Last year, Winnipeg-born Brule launched Monocle, a London, U.K.-based magazine that covers international affairs, business, culture and design. 

Mesley started the interview with classic softball questions about his desire for more “substance” after years focused on design for Wallpaper*. But the interview quickly took a turn when she began asking him about advertorials in the pages of Monocle. She questioned Brule about a particular Panasonic advertorial that is laid out in a similar way to the editorial content of the magazine:

You speak so passionately about journalistic principles, but what about the journalistic principle of not blending ads with content?

Brule replied that the advertorial is labelled clearly as such for readers, adding:

It’s an advertorial like anyone else would do. We’re not the only people in the business who are doing it, absolutely not…I think that is absolutely standard commercial practice right now.

A debate ensued about advertising and its relationship to editorial content. Comments on the CBC website show some viewers were horrified by Mesley’s treatment of a successful Canadian in international journalism markets while others were pleased she had pushed an editor on the issue of advertorials.

Watch the full interview here.

Read the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors Advertising Guidelines here.

What do you think? Is Brule right? Is the use of advertorials in this way standard commercial practice?