Boycott TOI, Boycott Reebok

29 10 2010

“Run Delhi Marathon only if you have Reebok” could well have been the headline for a sports column in Times of India, Hyderabad edition today ( 29/10/2010),. Since it is not an advertisement and is published in Times of India, a newspaper with over 100 years history, the headline was just a wee bit subtler in   ”It is important to wear the right gear while running.” The author of the column is the cricketer Yuvraj Singh. The column is sponsored by Reebok Zigtech, a brand endorsed by Yuvraj Singh. The columnist goes on to write a full paragraph on the virtues of Reebok Zigtech. There is no disclaimer that Yuvraj Singh endorses Reebok Zigtech. The para is reproduced below

It is also important to wear the right gear while running. Reebok has recently launched the most technologically advanced running shoes ZigTech. The shoes help to reduce wear and tear by up to 20 percent in key leg muscles, especially shins and hamstrings. These shoes are my personal favourite and I feel they serve as the energy drink for my feet.

This is yet another instance of advertising passing of as a news item or an editorial in Times of India. TOI has often compromised on separating the advertising from its editorial. For the right price, it will sell anything, including its masthead. In today’s newspaper, the first page delivered a full page ad for a Delhi based developer with some false news about Govt approving FDI in retail. The look was exactly like the normal TOI first page, masthead and all. It is a different matter that the normal first page was also there actually in Page 3.

Advertisers like Reebok would like to use the goodwill of sport stars like Yuvraj and the reach of TOI, to make their brand a recommendation to the gullible Indian public (?). I am certain they pay a disproportionate sponsorship rate for such columns.

To stop being deceived, the public should boycott such products. This will hurt the advertiser and advertiser in turn will stop using such tricks. This will also hurt TOI.

– G. Mohan

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