See that box on the right hand side of the cover — The one says that “Fidelity Voice: Revving Up Your Retirement”? AdAge reports that this is nothing but a teaser for a story-length ad paid for by Fidelity.
“We view this as strong content that’s part of the retirement package,” explains Forbes Media’s chief revenue officer.
You’ll notice that this comment isn’t coming from the magazine’s editorial staff, though the revenue guy swears that Forbes Chief Product Officer Lewis D’Vorkin wrote the amazing cover copy for the Fidelity box.
“Lewis deemed it was appropriate for Fidelity to be called out on the cover just like any other great piece of content would be,” explained the guy in charge of revenue who should not be the one explaining why something is on the cover of a nearly 100-year-old magazine.
Again, you’ll notice that Forbes’ justification of this nonsense jumps from the Mr. Revenue all the way up to Mr. Chief Product without mentioning the magazine’s actual editor, Randall Lane.
Revenue Dude doesn’t see how anyone could be misled into thinking this story called out on the front cover of an established and respected magazine was something other than an ad for a financial institution.
“When you look at the color scheme and the box, it’s separated, it has a different background,” he explained, somehow managing to not burst into flames or be struck by lightning. “For readers of Forbes, they’ve known for four years that when you see FidelityVoice that that is content that’s coming from one of our partners.”
He sadly sums up the decision to put the sponsored content on the cover of Forbes as “the evolution of where we’ve come from and where we are in today’s world.”
So Forbes’ new slogan is apparently, “Aw screw it. Let’s make some money now before the entire magazine industry goes under.”
Regrettably, Mr. Revenue is accurate in stating that this is the ad-filled world within which we all live. In addition to the increasing use of native advertising, some publishers — most notably Conde Nast — have created entire departments to help advertisers craft top-dollar sponsored content that will get their talking points to readers in a way that best masks the distinctive stink of advertising.