Creative Review has sold the guest editorship of its February edition to an advertising agency.
Centaur’s monthly about the design side of the advertising business looked at the ethical issues around the theme of selling your soul, after the agency Mother paid to become guest editors in celebration of its 10th birthday.
CR editor Patrick Burgoyne insisted that the magazine retained final editorial control, after a series of meetings between the two companies over the content of the magazine.
Mother initially paid £15,000 for the issue — which appears as a price sticker on the cover — but Burgoyne said the final cost was “a lot more, to fund the editorial content”.
As a result of the deal, CR was able to triple the contributors budget, added 20 more editorial pages, two A1-sized posters, an a A4-size sticker and further sheet of stickers.
Burgoyne said: “This issue had three times the production spend but didn’t cost the readers anymore. All the money Mother spent is subsiding the reader so they get more for their money in that issue.”
Mother dreamt up the theme “I Sold My Soul and I Love It” as part of the experiment. The issue debates what it means to work in visual communications and the ethical choices professionals such as advertisers and graphic designers have to make on a daily basis.
Burgoyne said the issue was directly relevant to the CR readership and that the sale of the edition was a comment on media ethics.
“If you work in advertising and graphic design, does that mean you are selling your soul? It’s a question of ethical integrity our readers face in these areas, so it’s an ethical issue to ask. Mother came up with the theme — sell your souls — and there was the question of whether we had sold our souls, because to get good editorial we paid someone to do it.”
Asked if he felt compromised as editor, Burgoyne pointed out that Mother were never advertisers with CR but readers.
He added: “I feel comfortable about it — it’s not about Mother, there’s no interview with them, it’s not puffy but it’s about important issues for the readers.”
Mother auctioned a page of CR on Ebay — which sold for over £1,000 — but which the successful bidder has yet to pay for. The CR editor said he could foresee a time when a magazine will put all its ads up for auction.
He added that the edition also raises the question of where advertorial crosses over into editorial.
Burgoyne said: “All magazines are looking at alternative ways of funding their issues. We are a professional magazine and we have seen a lot of our advertisers putting their money into the internet and away from the printed page — they didn’t want to do display adverts. So magazines are looking at different ways around it, to fund the editorial in the magazine. It’s not something we can do regularly, but it’s an interesting way of looking at funding the editorial side of the magazine.”
Burgoyne did not think the one-off would affect future editorial on the agency.
But he added: “We will have to see if people think that we are completely compromising editorial.”