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Deceptive LA Times ad September 26, 2008

Posted by jfoust in General.

I went to the front page of latimes.com Friday evening and got this:


LA Times interstitial ad

LA Times interstitial ad

The first thing that popped into my mind was that the Times had done some kind of relatively minor site redesign, keeping the logo and colors but changing some of the fonts and layout structure. Only when I looked closely did I realize that this was an interstitial ad for the new movie Eagle Eye. To understand the confusion, compare this layout to the actual latimes.com page that appeared after the interstitial ad disappeared:


LA Times home page

LA Times home page

Notice that the text colors and, more importantly, the site logo are essentially the same. I am surprised that the Times approved this interstitial ad given the possibility for confusion. Yes, there’s an “advertisement” note on the interstitial ad, but it’s easy (at least for me) to overlook. Had they not used a similar color scheme and the same logo, the potential for even momentary confusion would have been a lot lower. There is a history, of course, of running ads in newspapers and magazines that look like content, but even there their appearance has to be dissimilar enough from the publication’s style to be differentiated. That wasn’t the case here, and the result is a mild, but still undesirable, case of deception.



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