The Sydney Morning Herald runs this fascinating but rather self-serving piece on its marketing page today about its rival, The Australian. The first paragraph captures the facts and the tone:

News Ltd stirred the $3 billion newspaper pot big time on Monday when the sport section of The Australian allowed Toyota to shove live, front-page editorial out of the way to show off its new, bigger, more American Hilux.

The
four-page wraparound Toyota ad (part of it is reproduced at right, with
the real sports opening page below it), was “unprecedented for
Australian broadsheet newspapers and the symbolism too was perfect:
big-spending advertiser muscles editorial off the page for manna,” says
the Herald, which quotes News Ltd insiders as saying the deal cost Toyota “upwards of $200,000 for the one editorial-busting effort.”

Newspapers always have to express themselves creatively to get more revenues, the SMH quotes David Williams, advertising director of The Australian. “The more creative you are, the more revenue you create.”

The Herald says The Australian’s
editor in chief Chris Mitchell and editor Michael Stutchbury wouldn’t
talk about the ad wrap, but Fairfax commercial director Alan Revell
wasn’t so unforthcoming.

“Fairfax
is open to all kinds of innovative and creative advertising ideas and
has created a business development unit partly to push the boundaries
of new advertising formats,” he says. “However, there is a difference
between innovation and dropping your pants, and this is dropping your
pants.

“To interfere this way with live editorial is extraordinary.

“I’m surprised The Australian would go that far.

“To take the front page of sport and trick the reader is taking enormous liberty with the reader.”

CRIKEY:
It’s great to see the editorial values of Fairfax so proudly and boldly
displayed by Alan Revell. Does he wear a belt, or braces?

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Peter Fray
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