ANA Slams 'Today' Carnival Ad Placement

Bill Duggan, group EVP at the Association of National Advertisers, has taken NBC to task for sloppy coordination last week between the editorial and ad traffic departments. A story ran on Today about Carnival Cruise Lines and its recent ship disasters, which was immediately followed by an upbeat commercial for the same company.

The story ran last Thursday with the news hook that a Carnival ship lost power in the Indian Ocean. Today reported that it took three days to get the ship back to port, amid stifling heat and through waters known for pirate attacks. The story noted that it was just the latest cruise ship debacle for Carnival -- the Costa Concordia which ran aground off the coast of Italy in January was also operated by Carnival.

“It took only 10 minutes for the next PR disaster,” Duggan wrote in describing the trafficking snafu on the ANA’s Marketing Maestros blog. “During the very next commercial break, an ad for Carnival ran.” He noted that it was the high-energy spot with the Todd Rundgren track ("I don't wanna work") opening with a teenage girl blowing a big bubble, watching her dad “totally unwind on the cruise vacation.”



Duggan further described the positioning of the Carnival story so near to an ad for the company as a “horrific collision between content and advertising.” 

“Why in this day and age isn't someone at the network (or local station level) monitoring the news content and looking at the commercial log to make sure embarrassments like this don't happen?” Duggan asked. “Advertisers deserve better.”

It’s an issue that the media has grappled with over the years. Many local stations, for example, routinely give major sponsors like car companies notice if their news departments are going to run a negative piece on the auto industry, giving clients time to pull ads if they don’t want to be associated with the critical content.

But while the issue isn’t new, Duggan asserted that “the stakes are higher now, as mistakes like this are amplified via social media.”

Duggan guesses the Carnival spot aired in a local break on WNBC in New York and possibly other select markets as well. “But checks and balances need to be applied at both the national and local levels,” he said.

Reps for both Carnival and NBC did not respond for comment by deadline.

2 comments about "ANA Slams 'Today' Carnival Ad Placement".
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  1. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, March 8, 2012 at 9:04 a.m.

    Sorry, the fault here is with Carnival, if their is indeed fault. They have been running ads in the local news in New York since a couple of days after the Concordia accident.

    If Carnival was really concerned about the propinquity of their ads near ongoing stories about the stricken ships, they should have pulled their spots out of news programming entirely.

  2. Jim Dugan from PipPops LLC, March 8, 2012 at 9:12 p.m.

    Maybe it wasn't a mistake ~

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