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The Times: Please advertise your businesses responsibly

BCG's generic library photo of blurred business people examining a generic spread sheet

BCG's generic library photo of blurred business people examining a generic spread sheet

Since August, The Times has allowed readers to peak over the pay wall on one condition: you read sponsored editorial.  Has it at last gone too far?

After first spotting this phenomenon with The Times’ Chivas whiskey sponsored feature on chivalry, (covered in the post The Times: Please Advertise Responsibly) I was appalled to unearth more of this dodgy journalism.

Appalled, probably in much the same naive way as Mary Whitehouse would be if she was still around for a 5 minute surf on Google.

There is more alcoholic drink sponsored editorial, but the most curious is a Business City Guide piece entitled “Your essential guide to setting up a business abroad.”

The piece begins with an amusing amount of blatancy:

“Thinking of setting up abroad? Don’t go anywhere without consulting the Business City Guide online. Here you’ll find a wealth of economic data and essential contacts to help you make those exciting first steps into new markets.”

Surely no self-respecting business reader would want to read content with such an eager bias.  And who is this company after all?

As far as I can work out, BCG (not the immunisation injection) is a private company that has parasitically latched itself onto The Times to feed off its readers and their business aspirations.  According to its website (which is complete with stock photographs of blurred business people examining generic spreadsheets), BCG is “specifically designed for the business audiences of thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk.”

Owned by the Orwellianly named Internet Commercial Information Services, BCG is some kind of business consultancy company that has managed to jump into bed with News Corp.  The following complimentary shpeel appears on BCG’s website:

“For over 200 years, The Times Newspaper has been synonymous with responsible newsgathering and informed comment and is recognised as such by a broad, international audience. Today, its global profile is as high as ever and its content is still held in the highest esteem by an influential readership. Over the years it has adapted to the changing interests and lifestyles of its readers. In February 2002 The Times Newspaper Group launched the original Times Online, an interactive digital extension to its printed products that offers 24/7 global publishing to a highly business-orientated audience.”

All great praise, and of course, what better partner for Times Online than Business City Guide.  It continues:

“Continuing in this vein and by way of an addition to its already first class international business coverage, Internet Commercial Information Services of London has launched The Business City Guide in association with Times Online.”

Is the industry now so unlucrative that The Times has to hire out its respectability?

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