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07/05/2008 - par Mark Tungate

Last week I was at the Festival international de mode et de photographie in Hyères. During a quiet moment I found myself on a deckchair in the grounds of the villa where the event takes place, flicking through a magazine called Mixte that I'd found lying around. Suddenly a fashion type who works for Nike peeked over my shoulder. « Look, » he said, « that's my advertorial (publirédac- tionnel). »

I looked at the article he'd pointed to. It was strange, because it looked like yet another feature about a bunch of DJs, artists and stylists I'd never heard of. ­Although they were all wearing Nike sneakers, there was no mention of the fact that the piece was an ad - which it was, according to my new pal. In fact, it was less an advertorial than a clever piece of product placement.

At first my journalistic sensibilities were offended. And then I thought - well, why not ? After all, product placement is common in films and TV series. And fashion magazines have never pretended to be anything other than pure entertainment. They're all harnessed to their advertisers in one way or another : when have you ever seen a fashion magazine criticise a luxury brand ? Never, I can assure you. Some of us might complain that fashion magazines contain nothing but advertising ; but fashionable friends of mine respond that the ads are part of the entertainment package. So if it's now impossible to tell where the ads end and the editorial begins, does anybody really care ?

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