Saw this article on the Femail section of the Mail Online website today:


My initial thought was that this would be a lengthy article combining old wives’ tales and bad science. But it didn’t. In fact it didn’t immediately contain anything but a lengthy advert for a book: ‘The anti-ageing beauty bible’ by Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey – the authors of the Daily Mail ‘article’. The article links to the website of the book, gives details of how much the book costs and the various ways it can be purchased and provides links to other pages that provide lots of cosmetic products which it recommends as being the best at doing certain things to the female body.

The whole thing is one giant, blatant advert for their book, mixed in with heavy product placement. It is not listed as an advertorial, but an ‘exclusive preview from their new book’ – but I’m not really sure what the distinction is. The ASA merely states that: ‘Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such… Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them “advertisement feature”. The CAP code defines an advertorial as: ‘an advertisement feature, announcement or promotion, the content of which is controlled by the marketer, not the publisher, that is disseminated in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement’. Given that here the writer of the article is also the writer of the book, is it really acceptable to describe it as an exclusive sneak preview, rather than a blatant advertorial?

Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey are listed as authors on the Mail website and you can click on their names to check their other output. Not surprisingly, they have only produced a hand

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