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'In Association With' & 'Advertisement Feature' pages in AP

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by Chester AP, May 14, 2018.

  1. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Can anybody explain exactly what these terms mean, and if we can trust their contents to be reliable?

    The latest AP (issue dated 19th of May) has two 'In Association With' articles: Rotolight LED lighting and Panasonic LUMIX cameras/lenses. It has two 'Advertisement Features': mpb.com and Canon EF Lenses ('Ambassadors' Choice'). The 'Advertisement Features' also appear in the contents listing on page 3, so there they are not being treated as advertisements.

    In some recent issues of AP the 'TechSupport' page compiled by Ian Burley has been replaced by an 'Ask the Wexperts' page 'In Association with' WEX Photo/Video.

    For the cost of giving some hardware to the National Trust, have Panasonic gained a lot of advertising space in AP (and the NT magazine) that would usually have cost far more than the hardware they gave away?

    The Rotolight feature was written by James Paterson who also writes articles for AP that are not 'In Association With'. I am not suggesting any intention to mislead AP readers, but believe a clearer separation of editorial content and (all) advertising would enhance the magazine's reputation for impartiality when reviewing products manufactured or sold by these 'In Association With' advertisers.

    Also, who writes the patronising 'Back in the day' text that accompanies reproduction of old AP covers? The lady on the 1977 issue featured this week has the emaciated look that probably complies with current AP guidelines for artistic female nudity. I would love to know if she was really laying on top of some cameras, or if the picure was a real 'cut and paste' job. In 30 or 40 years time will somebody be sarcastic about 'all those tree by a lake' pictures on the covers in the 2010s? And the overuse of buzzwords like 'best' and 'essential' on those covers? I hope so.
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Doesn't worry me much. Either you can learn from or you can't. The real question is whether you could get similar results with someone else's kit and they are merely using one manufacturer's example (which is fair enough) or whether they suggest that you can ONLY get these results with their kit (or from their shop).

    Impartiality is always a difficult one. Usually, you have to read between the lines, and besides, who wants to read an extensive (and therefore expensive) test of an absolute stinker of a camera, lens or whatever? Indeed, who wants to write one?

    Finally, I rather like "back in the day" because it illustrates how tastes change.


  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Yup - they mean this is an advert. They will be factually correct but it doesn't mean there is not a better option.
  4. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    Firstly I should say that the trend is that many companies, and not just in the photo trade, increasingly don't want to place straight display ads like they used to. They are a slowly dying medium. They want to provide content that carries a message, and ideally a benefit to their potential customers, and the degree of influence they wield in that content determines what this content is called. For example:

    • Advertisement Feature or Advertorial - this content is written by or provided by the advertiser, its just they have decided to write you an article rather than just running an ad. Sometimes they ask us to outsource the writing to a freelancer, but the client has full approval over every word.

    • In association with - Editorial content produced by the AP team about the clients products or services. For example, Rotolight paid for a series of articles on photographers who use their lights. Again, we chose the photographers, and we mention the lights, but the articles are not ABOUT the lights, they're about a particular technique (eg Rembrandt lighting). However Rotolight are also running some advertorials specifically about the various benefits of their lights which James is also producing, but they are labelled differently. With these the client does not have copy approval but they can fact check and make sure it's 'on message'.

    • Sponsored by - the 'advertiser' has no say at all in the content. They are just paying to be associated with certain types of article. So Vanguard sponsor our Location Guides but have no say in which locations we choose or what we say about them. The IET is sponsoring a series of articles on engineering and technology photographers because they represent those industries and want to raise the profile of them, but have no say in the photographers chosen or what we write.

    With Panasonic, they are sponsoring the national trust and are running a series of roadshows at their properties.. Our role here is to encourage people to visit these properties by explaining what there is to photograph there, while on the third page running a call to action to attend the roadshows. There is very little promo about Panasonic cameras in these, just a box out listing some of their products, and nothing that suggests you need to use these products to get photos like that.

    Some people may be suspicious of this kind of content but I would argue that a feature about what to shoot at a particular National Trust property, or how to produce Rembrandt lighting using Rotolights (but other lights are available) is of more value to the reader than straight display ads would have been, and I should emphasise that the paging for these comes out of the ad page allocation, not the editorial, so they're extra (except for sponsored features, which we would have done anyway).

    Also, we would not compromise our integrity by lying about products or promoting products we did not think were any good, and here it all comes down to the trust that our readers have in the independence of the AP brand, which is not for sale.
    SqueamishOssifrage likes this.
  5. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    You're very observant, I must say!

    On a couple of other points, to my knowledge Panasonic has given no hardware to the NT. If you look again at one of those NT features you'll see its mostly about the NT, not Panasonic. They have very little 'ad space' in these features.

    We deliberately do not accept any sponsorship or other commercial arrangements around any of our review content because this would rightly raise questions over the impartiality of the reviews. Our technical team is absolutely free to say whatever they like about the products they review, free of impediment, and do so as a matter of course.

    re your comment about the 1977 cover in Back in the Day, firstly we no longer show nudes on the cover of AP, secondly we have no 'guidelines' as to the level of 'emaciation' or otherwise of anyone we feature inside - all we're interested in is how good a picture it is – and finally the tongue in cheek writing style is a reflection that tastes and attitudes change with time and we are happy to make fun of former ourselves and how we used to do things. To take these old back issues seriously and remove the humour would make for a very dull read. We have had a lot more positive correspondence about this column than negative.

    I'm sure people will be making fun of our current covers in 40 years time and rightly so, because tastes and attitudes will be very different then too. In the meantime if you'd like to suggest some new buzz words be my guest.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  6. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    FYI - I will be publishing a much shortened version of this question and answer in the next available AP Inbox to clarify this for any other readers who may be wondering the same thing.
  7. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member


    Thank you for your detailed reply to my questions. I note that you believe 'a much shortened version of this question and answer' merits space in AP, which is sensible because of the increasing number of pages used for the various forms of 'advertiser linked' articles.

    I put this on the AP forum because I knew that if I sent it direct to AP it would be probably be ignored, or 'edited' and/or probably followed by a patronising reply. Last year AP printed a brief email of mine concerning a series of misleading Lee Filters advertisements in which it was claimed that the picture in the advertisement was an 'unprocessed RAW' file, which is impossible. The reply confirmed that I was correct, then continued in a patronising tone to redefine 'unprocessed', when the best reply would have been 'we have raised this with the advertiser who had no intention to mislead and this wording will not be used in future'.

    I made no reference to nudity (or even bikinis) on modern AP covers, but when artistic female nudity appears inside AP the models appear to be emaciated like the young lady on the cover of the 1977 issue. The fashion industry has been criticised for perpetuating the 'size zero' image, so it is unfortunate that AP sometimes uses images like that. When I first saw the image 'number 5' on page 14 on the 19th of May issue I though it was a shop dummy with an impossible figure, or a Barbie doll posed in front of a photograph. I would love to know what your female readers think about the 'body image' message it sends (or was that the point, made in a way that was too subtle for me to get?).

    There is no sexist axe being gound here - artistic male nudity in AP might enhance AP's desire not to be mistaken for an old fashioned 'Lad's Mag'.

    Also, I cannot believe that the NT has purchased the Panasonic hardware offered as prizes.

  8. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    The NT make it clear that the prizes for the two winners are provided by Panasonic.
  9. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    I don't know what prizes you're referring to, Chester. The cameras at the NT roadshows are being loaned to visitors, not given to them. I presume you must be referring to something in the NT magazine which I don't receive (not being a member) and is nothing to do with AP.

    As for emaciated models, there is ONE picture of a fairly thin young girl on page 14, but there is a less thin model directly above it, two pages of Marilyn Monroe (size 12) just before that, a fairly voluptuous girl on pages 28-31, another more regular sized model in our retouching feature on page 35 and in our portrait test on page 35. Plus of course lots of other, non-female portraits.
    I don't know what our female readers think of that one thin model, but I presume the female photographer who took it didn't have any issue with it.

    There's no danger of AP being mistaken for a lads mag. We very rarely feature nude or even semi nude photography and the amount of space we give to pictures of women in general, even fully clothed ones, is significantly less than the space give to landscapes, nature, wildlife, street photography, travel, and virtually every other genre of photography.

    So is there anything else you'd like to complain about while you're here? Because it feels like your nit-picking is scraping the barrel now.
  10. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I look forward to the 'much shortened version of this question and answer in the next available AP Inbox to clarify this for any other readers who may be wondering the same thing'.

    My observation about the image on page 14 was made as a comparison with the model on the cover of the 1977 issue, and not meant to be part of the 'editoral or advertising' debate. I once worked with a woman as thin as the yound lady on page 14, but she was near the end of a long course of chemotherapy.
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Chester,

    I don't think you can "know" this, because all letters are taken pretty seriously except perhaps those from the green-ink-and-tinfoil-hat brigade (and even those are read). The letter you refer to was acknowledged and they agreed that you were correct. You may not have liked the way the rest of the reply was phrased (I don't recall it) but remember that letters are chosen, and replies formulated, for the edification of the readership at large. As for your putting 'edited' in quotation marks, well, yes, usually for length and relevance. But you really didn't need the quotation marks.


  12. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Replace 'knew' with 'strongly suspect' - the rest remains.
    And the reply was patronising.
  13. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    But you implied in your original post that the 1977 cover complied with 'current AP guidelines' about female body shape - in other words, that we have a policy of only using skinny models. I was pointing out that this is nonsense, and easily demonstrated as such just by looking at the other pictures in that same issue.
    In 1977 most of the models on our covers (which I had nothing to do with, by the way) were a little curvier, so this one is unusual. Personally I think the girl on the 1977 cover is too thin, you can see her ribs. I wouldn't personally us a model that thin on the cover like that now (though we wouldn't do a cover like that nowadays anyway) but you don't have to look very hard to find young girls that thin today.

    We print these old covers out of historical interest, not to make a political statement or to suggest we hold the same views and aesthetic tastes today, and I think the tongue in cheek tone of the text (written by our Deputy Editor Geoff Harris, by the way) makes that clear.
  14. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Perhaps my comment about the 1977 model and some more recent images in AP was 'tongue in cheek' too, but my point was that the image on page 14 of a recent issue was promoting a similar (emaciated) body image. So if the 1977 image would not be acceptable now, why is the other one aceptable?

    I think we have exhausted this topic: thank you for your replies.
  15. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    I personally would not choose to use the model on the 1977 cover because you can see her ribs. She's visibly a lot skinnier than the girl on page 14, which is s stylised fashion shot and the model is fully clothed. But that's a judgement call I would make personally as the editor, which is my prerogative. Another editor might feel differently. Happy to end this discussion here.

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