As people would know, I have been live tweeting Nine News, A Current Affairs, Seven News and Today Tonight for the past week and a bit. I remember seeing a story on Today Tonight, Monday night, about Coles cutting its prices by “up to 50%” on 12 items each week. Cue pictures of cheap carrots and average punters in Coles being asked “if this a good thing”. The story had another angle, though – whether the prices would hurt farmers, in terms of the prices they are paid. Cue representative of AusVeg, expressing concern. TT also gave viewers an option to comment via their website whether people would change their supermarket of choice because of the drop in fruit prices.
One of the more remarkable inclusions in the story was mention of the ad campaign that Coles was launching in conjunction with the price discounts. Not only mention – it actually featured chunks of it during the story. The campaign had nothing to do with the rest of the story -it just makes the claim Coles’ fruit is fresher than anything else in the world – even rebadged songs about show business. For those who don’t watch commercial TV, it looks like this:
It was a standard Today Tonight / A Current Affair story, managing to include an ad inside a story for a company that spends a lot of money placing ads in the advertising breaks. It is an ingenious way to plant brand and ad recognition. A solid piece of NewsAdvertising. What was ingenious, however, was the way that ad managed to stick inside news reports about the story.
Watching Nine News breaks during Tuesday night’s programming, there were snippets of a story about Coles discounting fruit and its impact on farmer – whilst in the background TV viewers could see Curtis Stone and the Freshness Dancers. By this stage, the very real concerns held by farmers has become mere background fodder for what seems to be the true purpose of this “news” – to advertise Coles.
The most disturbing element, though, came on the ABC’s AM program this morning, where the story of the price discounting by Coles from Michael Edwards started with the jingle. A Coles ad, playing on the ABC. Yes, it foregrounded a story about Coles reducing prices – but the jingle still had no relationship with the story and managed to include a piece of commercial advertising on the ABC. In terms of marketing, this would be considered a piece of NewsAdvertising Gold. The ABC should be more resistant to the type of reporting structures used by commercial TV – especially current affairs programs. However, it seems that it too can succumb pretty easily.
Mind you, so do I. I now have that Coles ad on the blog. My partner may kill me.