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Brazilian Press: Lolita to the Rescue

 Brazilian 
        Press: Lolita to the Rescue

Advertisers
don’t want circulation but money to ensure their survival.
The middle or upper-middle classes, who buy expensive items, never stopped

buying papers. Grocery stores and electronics/appliance stores know
that consumers will only come back when the economy improves.
by:
Alberto Dines

 

The
Bolha group (Globo—Folha de S.Paulo)
is back with a new promotion, this one a collectible: a library of novels,
or 30 "landmarks of contemporary literature". Readers will
get the first volume for free and the others will be sold at R$ 11.50
(US$ 4).

The
lure—and an irresistible one—will be Lolita, by Vladimir
Nabokov. I wouldn’t call the book a literary "landmark", but
it’s definitely an opportunity to reach pinnacles of readership, especially
when you consider the fact that it will be a gift.

Moral
degenerates of all sizes are sure to expend the mere R$ 3.50 (US$ 1.20)
of the cover price of the newspaper in exchange for some indescribable
moments, but there’s no guarantee that they will be willing to invest,
Sunday after Sunday, in the library in question. No big deal. The partners
wish to blab about the feat of selling a million lolitas together. What
we have here is quality journalism: newspapers in the trash and the
unforgettable woman-child on the bed-side table.

What
could be the benefit of this investment? To raise circulation back above
the half million mark? On the first Sunday, they’ll get there. Newsstands
might actually run out of the paper. After that, it’s another story.
Circulation is not what advertisers are after. What they want is the
money to ensure their survival. In São Paulo, the biggest advertisers
are in the real estate business and all those high-rise residential
or commercial launchings that justify a whole page or a double page
of the newspaper are aimed at the middle or upper-middle classes who
never stopped buying papers. Grocery stores and electronics/appliance
stores know that consumers will only come back when the economic situation
gets out of the tight spot.

It’s
money thrown out the window, at a time when journalistic companies are
counting their pennies and firing their best staff.

The
bombshell promotion of the old-new partners coincides with another throatcutting
event in the newsroom of Valor Econômico, the flagship
of the Bolha group.

To
the drumbeat… of the register

The
ombudsman of Folha de S.Paulo resumed in his Sunday column (5/25)
a topic on which this Observatory has touched several times:
the use of journalists as publicity boys. It’s more serious than professional
journalists doubling as press advisers.

Bernardo
Ajzenberg comments on the actual case of a columnist from Folha
who participated in an advertising campaign for a real estate venture,
all against the express rules contained in the Manual de Redação
(Manual for Editorial Room Staff). Judging by the emphasis of the comment,
it’s easy to smell trouble.

But
the ombudsman was unable to notice that in the same Sunday edition,
on the cover of a classified section (Vehicles-1), two reporters who
had covered the Iraq war participated ostensively in a promotional story
created to launch the big Humvee jeep in the Brazilian market. A story
with the same purpose was published in other automobile sections. In
all of them one can find the express interest of the representatives
to sell both the military version and the civil version of the fancy
car.

It’s
important to register that the story, as a service, is excellent. But
it was printed in a section of the newspaper which is distinctly commercial
and does not hide its promotional content. If the legal counselors of
Folha do not find condemning clauses in the Manual, the columnist
criticized by the ombudsman can demand equal treatment.

Once
more, the ombudsman of Folha does a great service to journalism.
The use of mezzo-journalists as salespeople is becoming habitual. In
this no man’s land, anything goes. Unibanco’s advertising agency has
aired TV commercials with a journalist-presenter and a social columnist.
And the idea was not to promote Fome Zero (Zero Hunger).

 

Alberto
Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR—Laboratório
de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced
Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor
of the Observatório da Imprensa. He also writes a
column on cultural issues for the Rio daily Jornal do Brasil.
You can reach him by email at obsimp@ig.com.br
 

Translated
by Tereza Braga, email:
tbragaling@cs.com 

This
article was originally published in Observatório da Imprensa
www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br 

 

 

 

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