Shaking his Finger at the New Yorker

Lewis Lazare wrote scathingly last week in the Chicago Sun-Times about the New Yorker’s recent all Target ad issue.

“But make no mistake. Target advertising executives must be laughing all the way to the image bank because of the ad placement coup they have pulled off, while New Yorker staffers, most notably Editor David Remnick, can only wipe the egg from their faces.

What is most stunning about the issue is the New Yorker’s refusal to clearly flag any of the pages and pages of copyless Target illustrations as “advertisements.” And in “ad” after “ad” it would be quite easy to confuse them for New Yorker editorial content, because all of them are done in a stylish format closely resembling the cartoons and illustrations for which the magazine has become famous.

Yet, perplexingly, the New Yorker seemingly went out of its way to boldly flag with the word “advertisement” a few small house ads in the issue that no one could misconstrue as anything but ads.

Whatever the damage done to the New Yorker’s vaunted editorial integrity by its first-ever single-advertiser issue, Target, already perceived as a relatively classy discount retailer thanks to its savvy advertising profile, has had its image immeasurably burnished by the practically seamless blending of its ads into the New Yorker editorial product.

But the real kicker in what has to be counted among the most shameful moments in New Yorker history is the list of illustrators involved in the Target ad campaign that appears on page 87. The ad copy above that list simply says: “Our thanks to all the illustrators who brought this project to life.”

Would it have been too much to ask for the New Yorker or Target to reference this as an “advertising project,” just to provide a tiny bit of clarity somewhere in the magazine? Instead, we are left to conclude that maybe the New Yorker and Target had decided the project was, in fact, something more deceptive.”