Marketing smarts or dangerous bedfellows?

There was a time when media organizations reveled in their independence. Slowly, consolidation in the media industry meant cross pollination and media organizations taking a more corporate-like approach to their business and marketing. That has morphed into outright aggressive partnerships with a corporate world that media owners once acted largely as watchdog over.

Today’s announcement of the Globe & Mail’s sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver is the latest media partnership announcement (CanWest had already jumped on board, with reviews from its own papers…).

Olympic 2010 logo

Media, which at times mocked and belittled the corporate marketing speak, are now part of the mix, “extending brands” and “leveraging partnerships” to “reach more stakeholders.”

If the Globe is ponying up money to back the Olympics, can it remain editorially independent? Publisher Philip Crawley says so. Editorial independence is not necessarily demonstrated by what and how events and situations are covered. It’s what is not covered that reveals the invisible hand of the suits behind the editors. No, it’s not commonplace, but yes, it’s more subtly recognized within media circles than the general public.

From VANOC’s perspective, media partnerships are a great marketing move that will almost guarantee them extensive coverage and arguably minimize any sustained negative coverage. As Mr. Corleone once said: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Better still, partner with them so they have a financial interest.

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