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Just say no to BP, Morgan Stanley

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By now, you must have heard of the onerous "rules" for advertising recently announced by BP Energy and Morgan Stanley. These two major print advertisers are demanding to be informed of "negative" stories about themselves and to have their ads pulled from issues in which those stories are running.

While hiding behind rhetoric about "not trying to influence editorial," these two companies have made it very difficult for any of us to accept their ad contracts and their "rules." Last week, I discussed this with a publisher who confided that he refused to sign the contract for Morgan Stanley and stood to lose several hundred thousand dollars this year.

How do we combat this? First, if we all hold steady and don't cave in, advertisers like these two will have no place to advertise. Imagine Morgan Stanley never advertising in The Wall Street Journal, Barron's or The New York Times, or in the large number of b-to-b financial publications and on their Web sites.

Second, advertiser associations as well as media associations need to take a stand as well. ABM reissued its guidelines last week, which we applaud, but the ANA, Four A's and AAF need to get involved as well.

And third, those of us at publications that cover media and marketing need to speak out. If I were at one of these companies, I would be pretty embarrassed by the bad publicity it's generating.

So, please stand up and say no to Morgan Stanley and BP Energy.

Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.

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