August 26, 2009

When Weasels Attack

Given that the entire global economy has tanked in the wake of unscrupulous lending practices that began in the US sub-prime home mortgage market, you would think that CNN, the self-proclaimed 'Worldwide Leader in News,' might chose to distance itself from mortgage lenders as customers for a while, at least until things cool off and the DOW rebounds a bit more.

Instead, CNN had sold airtime- for months now- to an advertiser called 'TMU,' which is running ads that deceptively mimic the visual style of TV news.

The ad begins with a swoosh graphic announcing 'BREAKING NEWS' and proceeds to an 'on-air personality' delivering what appears to be a news story. The typical elements of a CNN piece are all readily apparent: the over-the-shoulder graphic, the lower third, the crawl. They dovetail quite nicely with the lead-in promo for Anderson Cooper and the outro promo for Lou Dobbs. The ad shown ran on August 20, 2009.

An implicit association with the Federal government is apparent not only in the mention of the FHA, but also in the 'toll-free hotline,' which readers will recall was part of the 'Bush plan' to provide emergency assistance to those seeking to avoid foreclosure. In this case, it's a hotline to TMU. I never called it, but I may give it a shot.

I find this type of blurring-the-lines between news and those paying for airtime to be an inexcusable offence. If CBS can be fined for a Janet Jackson boob, CNN should be made to pay for this money-grab. Below I have appended images from the promos that appears before and after the ad, as well as the intro graphic to the next-up CNN story.

ac360CNNlou dobbs