Monocle’s Bizarre Piece of North American Marketingism
In conversation with Digiday, Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brule expressed his distaste for the term native advertising. It’s a “bizarre, North American piece of marketingism,” he said. Meanwhile, Monocle does some kick-ass native advertising. (The above screenshot is a display ad that links out to Bottega Veneta, running on the homepage between a scroll of hero photos for editorial features; it’s not clear whether or not Monocle’s creative team was involved in the ad’s creation.)
If the company’s infrastructure blurs the church-and-state divide between editorial and sales, it’s by design. Editors accompany ad directors on sales calls. “I’m of the opinion that all good journalists are good salespeople too,” Brule said. While the ad team discusses pricing and tries to close the business, editors give Monocle’s potential clients insight into the publication’s editorial calendar and explain the reasoning behind certain editorial decisions.
Once the client buys in, Monocle’s team then works with them on the concept, produces illustrations, and executes the final ads with their input. The result is an advertisement that meshes with the magazine’s look and feel and aspires to be appealing to readers. All the ads are labeled vaguely — with the brand’s name, followed by “X Monocle” — but leave it to the readers to figure out what that means.
I think the “X Monocle” attribution is perhaps overly subtle, but otherwise I’m a supporter. Monocle is a culture magazine, not an investigative reporting shop, so I’m not worried about powerful interests buying its silence. And while I’m not sure all good journalists are good salespeople (plenty are!), I am certain that all good journalists know the difference between a reported story and an advertiser’s photo shoot. Ads that are less sucky and a solution that’s convincing more advertisers to support premium publishing projects?! What’s not to like?