Boston.com sells out

Written by Adrian Holovaty on April 10, 2003

Boston.com's home-page logo today:

Boston.com logo, with intertwined diamond rings

The logo links to a pop-up window filled with advertising from Long's Jewelers.

(Thanks to Adam Gaffin of online-news for bringing this to my attention.)

Comments

Posted by Elaine on April 10, 2003, at 2:45 p.m.:

That is just sad. Is there any paper precendent for this, anywhere?

Posted by Simon Willison on April 10, 2003, at 2:48 p.m.:

Sigh. Not only is this pretty tacky, but it has quite serious usability issues in that the site logo is expected to link back to the home page of the site.

Posted by Dean on April 10, 2003, at 5:19 p.m.:

I'm with Simon - I was thinking the same thing. Serious usability issues and, in my mind, ethical issues as well. I'm not so sure this is a "service" to the reader.

Thanks Adrian for bringing this to my attention. Let's hope we don't see this kind of "sell-out" on this site, or any others for that matter, in the future.

Posted by prawnFresh on April 11, 2003, at 9:29 a.m.:

Nothing quite like a bit of selling out to get the blood going!

Posted by Vin Crosbie on April 11, 2003, at 11:42 p.m.:

Elaine, I don't know of any online newspaper precedent for this, although Boston.com technically isn't a newspaper site -- it's a regional portal site that happens to be owned by newspaper publishing company and happens to encapsulate bostonglobe.com as a subsidiary site).

Of course, all those 'happens' happen to be a bit too many ingenous rationalizations for my stomach. Note too that the senior executive (vice president & general manager) of Boston.com is the incoming president of the Newspaper Association of America's New Media Federation.

Posted by Keith on April 14, 2003, at 1:54 p.m.:

YIKES. That is really, really sick and wrong. All I can do is shake my head. Ouch.

Posted by Scott on April 15, 2003, at 4:46 p.m.:

I thought it was tasteful and unique positioning. And, in today's economy, I'm sure that a site like Boston.com likely has to find revenue wherever they can get it to keep going. Sure, the linking was a problem, but other than that - I don't see the big deal.

Posted by Lisa DeSisto @ Boston.com on April 15, 2003, at 4:58 p.m.:

For folks outside the Boston area, Boston.com is known for our irreverent and edgy marketing. Don't forget Boston.com is the site that pioneered the bathroom sponsorship at the Jupiter conference years ago. There are many reasons why we are boston.com and not bostonglobe.com. You have to admit, it is less intrusive than a pop-up ad.

Posted by Tim on April 15, 2003, at 5:11 p.m.:

I didn't have a problem with it at all. In fact, I bought an engagement ring for my girlfriend after viewing this Ad. Hey, online advertising really does work!

Posted by Julie on April 15, 2003, at 9:51 p.m.:

I think the very obvious problem with this ad is that once the name and logo of *any* company are put up for sale, users must question what -- if anything -- that company does hold sacred. What is not for sale? A particularly bothersome problem for a news organization concerned with credibility.

Whether 'globe' appears in the URL or not, I see the words 'Boston Globe' twice in the upper-left corner alone and the majority of the boston.com home page is news content. And I swear I'm not trying to pick a fight, but I would hope only the marketing staff of any news organization would want the company to be known for its 'irreverent and edgy marketing.' I will concede that it's less intrusive than a pop-up ad, but surely there is some alternative which requires neither evil. =)

Posted by I P Daily on April 17, 2003, at 12:38 a.m.:

Your HTML code doesn't validate any more. :)

Posted by Adrian on April 17, 2003, at 3:37 a.m.:

Tim, congratulations on your engagement ring purchase. Did you get a discount from the jeweler because of your Boston.com affiliation?

I record IP addresses, guys.

Posted by Dave on April 20, 2003, at 12:23 p.m.:

Geez, Adrian, I read Tim's post as satire. Now you'll get him fired, and he'll have to hock the ring in order to eat!

Seriously, Boston.com's assertion that it is a portal, not a newspaper, begs the question: Take away the Globe's content and whadda ya got?

A lot of unemployed Boston.commers.

So, Boston.com, for most of its users (and that includes me, a long-suffering Sox fan living in Upstate New York) IS the Globe.

Web, print and TV outlets wrap their logos all the time in holiday-related adornments. They all seem to have rediscovered the American flag lately. Google likes to toy with its logo from time to time.

So it's only bad when the speech is overtly commercial? Or would it have been better if the logo had had the words -- ADVERTISEMENT -- above and below?

Entire sections of news content are sponsored. Why not the logo?

I'm not sure how I feel about Boston.com's logo sale. But the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to hate it.

Posted by KF on December 19, 2003, at 11:01 a.m.:

News outlets these days are owned by media mega-conglomerates that wouldn't think twice about subverting, distorting, or suppressing information if it meant they'd earn an extra buck. They've already sold out. Are we really all that surprised that boston.com would change their logo -- a much less objectional offense in my opinion -- to turn a profit??

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