By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Globe runs a wraparound front-page ad

Click on any image for a larger view.

One of the few disadvantages of being a digital subscriber to the Boston Globe is that whenever there’s news regarding the print edition (except on Sundays), I’m usually the last to know.

So … today the Globe published a four-page wraparound of sponsored content from Children’s Hospital that looks like the front page, though it’s clearly labeled as advertising. I’ve seen half-page ad treatments in newspapers, which I’ve tried to emulate with the image in the middle. But I haven’t seen a full page (at left) before. The actual front page, which you get to once you pull off the wraparound, is at right.

The Children’s Hospital content is featured on and as well, although there’s nothing unusual about the online treatment.

The verdict: We all know this wouldn’t have flown 10 or maybe even five years ago. But there is no money in the newspaper business these days. I’m willing to be very understanding of any form of advertising as long as it’s properly labeled.

On the other hand, you don’t want to do anything that alienates your best customers—that is, your print subscribers. So, yes, I would have preferred it if the Globe had tried to talk Children’s into going for the half-page treatment instead.

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  1. My husband (who left this vale of tears some years ago) and I used to commiserate over the Globe’s practice of using the same (opinionated) expert in news articles on a particular topic whenever the topic came up. Advertising such as today’s wrap-around can come across to me as an extension of this, whether it actually is or not — it can seem to me like an endorsement by the Globe of the advertiser, just as the Globe’s use of a particular opinionated expert seemed to us to endorse the expert’s point of view. (I had a conversation about this more recently with someone I don’t know personally, about the coverage of the opioid addiction issues — she’s some sort of professional in the field and has apparently tried unsuccessfully to get other points of view — about the role of the family in recovery, for example — published in the paper.) So while I agree that clear labeling is important, and that today’s example provides clear labeling, for me the labeling doesn’t dissipate a sense I can get that the newspaper is chummy with particular individuals and institutions, and their points of view, in the region. I guess what I’m saying is that the Globe’s practice in its use of experts colors my reaction to the advertising.

  2. Ron Newman

    Perhaps, although I think they’ve provided fair coverage of recent issues regarding the hospital (such as the ongoing battle about the Prouty Garden)

  3. Our response as print subscribers: we were not thrilled with it, but it was clearly identified as an ad, and then we could remove it and read our paper.

  4. Bob Gardner

    According to the Weekly Dig, the electronic version of the wraparound failed to include some of the local institutions who were named in print as profiting from gun sales.

    • Dan Kennedy

      You’re referring to last week’s anti-gun editorial section, not today’s ad. Print and digital weren’t identical with regard to the gun material. Digital also had some content that wasn’t in print. The overwhelming majority of subscribers saw it in print, not online, so omitting stuff from online but not from print seems like a mighty odd way of sucking up to major institutions.

      • Bob Gardner

        As the Weekly Dig explained, the digital version will be around indefinitely, while the print version will be almost impossible to find shortly. So, if an institution wanted embarrassing information to quietly disappear, keeping it off the internet version would be the preferred method.

        • Dan Kennedy

          If you believe that theory, then you must also believe there was some unexplained reason that the Globe just couldn’t keep that information out of the print edition. It would have been simple enough to leave it out of both print and digital.

  5. I’m a Globe print subscriber and I wasn’t troubled by it. Then again, I might have felt differently is it was a four page ad for, say, Pepsi instead of a local hospital.

  6. Peter Sullivan

    Dan, I think you are correct that the Globe would never have run this ad five or ten years ago. You can put the words advertisement at the top, but I think that using the same style, fonts, headlines and even putting the Globe logo at the top, this was clearly an effort to confuse readers into thinking that this was Globe editorial… In years past, clients that wanted to run advertorial type ads would have to use a different font and style, as not to try and pass of as something the paper was publishing….. How times have changed.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Peter, although they did run a smaller version of the Globe logo at the top, the font used for the body type is quite a bit different from what is used in editorial content. I agree that the headline font is, if not identical, remarkably similar.

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