Does Running An Ad Equal Product Endorsement?

by Sarah on August 10, 2009 · 81 comments

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You may have seen Karen Scott’s recent blog post about the Chancery Stone ad which is currently running at the Smart Bitches blog. Katiebabs also blogged about this in Advertising Taboo Books and the Authors Who Write Them.

Basically, Chancery Stone writes stories about incestuous couples which she classifies as romance. I’m a pretty tolerant person and I’m generally of the opinion that consenting adults should do whatever they want and shouldn’t be discriminated against because of it. However, it seems my tolerance has its limits and incest is definitely one. There is absolutely nothing romantic in the idea of incest. Yes, I read (and enjoyed) Virginia Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic when I was a kid. But I would classify this as horror, not romance.

At the time of writing, the Smart Bitches have yet to respond to either Karen or Katie’s posts. I have no idea what their thinking was when they chose to run that ad. At the end of the day, it is their site and they can choose to advertise whatever they want on it. I am simply surprised because they are usually vociferous in speaking out against authors behaving badly (if you check the links on Karen’s blog, you’ll see that Chancery Stone is one of them). I hope that they do make some sort of a statement on this, even if it is merely to say that they can’t comment for legal reasons, or they will host whatever damn ad they choose.

Another thing which bothered me was the fact that Karen posted her piece last Wednesday and apart from a few comments, there was no response from the Blogoshpere . As Super Wendy quite rightly pointed out in the comment thread on Karen’s blog:

I’m wondering what the reaction of Romance Bloglandia would be if this ad wasn’t at the Smart Bitches – but say on an author’s web site or in Romantic Times? Food for thought.

My answer? People would have gone crazy.

I’m going to go one step further and say that bloggers would have jumped on this had that ad appeared on almost any other blog apart from the Smart Bitches. Why are people so reticent to comment on this? Is it because they’re afraid of criticizing the SBs because they have a successful site? If so, that’s bullshit. Look, I love their blog. I visit at least once a day. They’ve done a fantastic job and deserve their success. But just because I like their blog doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they do or say. If I don’t agree with something, I’m going to speak out, and it makes no difference to me if the bloggers I’m criticizing get 3 hits per day or 3 million.

My question to you is this: does running an ad equate endorsement, or tolerance, of the product advertised? We’ve all seen disclaimers along the lines of “The site owners do not necessarily share the opinions expressed, etc.”, but my personal opinion is that advertising a product indicates tacit approval at the very least.

{ 81 comments }

Ashley Ladd August 15, 2009 at 01:46

After reading comments here and at Karen’s blog, I went back and re-read the SB’s advertising policy. They say that ads do not have to about romance or even about books. So whether the book is really a romance or not, doesn’t matter – as far as their ad policy. They also say they have the right to deem any ad hideous and thus not run it.

So in their opinion, it must not have been hideous.

Personally? I don’t think I’d run that kind of ad.

The book definitely isn’t a romance. The author needs to learn the definition of what a romance is.

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