FitzSimons claims he didn’t know his column was a beer ad
A brand-funded content campaign for beer brand James Boag’s has seen the first two authors of the sponsored Good Weekend column go public to say they were unaware their work would be presented as an ad.
The column – “on how to be a better man” – appears within the pages of Good Weekend magazine, published on Saturdays by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. It appears under the headline “Greatness rarely comes easily”, which is the new Boag’s slogan. It also features the Boag’s logo above and below the content.
Boag’s registered the slogan as a trademark four months ago.
The first column featured former adman Nigel Marsh, the author of Fat, Forty and Fired. The second was from regular Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons.
Yesterday, FitzSimons took to his regular Saturday sports column, The Fitz Files, to distance himself from his contribution in Good Weekend the previous week. He told readers in an item headed “Clarification”:
“TFF took a little flak last week for the fact that on the same day I was having a rant about gambling and alcohol sponsorship in league, a column I wrote for Good Weekend appeared beneath or above some kind of beer banner, making it look like an ad. (Still haven’t seen it, as I have been away.) Bring it in tight: I know nothing of it. I provided the article to GW, they ran it, as I think they’re running one this week or next week, or both. I have no association or commercial interest with the advertisers.”
Meanwhile, Marsh – who gave up drinking more than a decade ago -told Mumbrella that he had assumed the column would be presented as normal editorial content, with a sponsorship credit at the end. He was commissioned by Good Weekend’s editor Ben Naparstek.
Marsh said: “To be fair to Ben he made it clear to me that the column was going to be sponsored by Boag’s. I feel the issue is one of over zealous art direction not editorial deception or incompetence”.
Mumbrella understands that the sponsored column is due to appear a further six times over the next few months.
Naparstek declined to comment. Mumbrella understands that both authors were initially told by email that the column was sponsored by James Boag’s.