Since it will no longer request from publishers written, advance summaries of content-a policy that reignited a long-standing debate about advertiser influence on editorial-Chrysler said it is likely to drop some magazines rather than risk running ads in editorial environments it deems unfavorable.
Chrysler denied the move marks a retaliation against magazines for putting pressure on the automaker to change its policy. "Prenotification has changed. The guidelines are still the same," said Michael Aberlich, manager of consumer media relations at Chrysler Corp.
Mr. Aberlich said the car company is "likely to be more conservative in our [print buying] approach" and will probably drop some "edgier" magazines. "We may reduce our overall magazine budget," Mr. Aberlich said. "If we are going to be more conservative in our choice of magazines, we'll take a look at total spending."
NO REAL CHANGE
Several industry executives said that in ending its request for written notification, Chrysler is not really changing the way it works with magazines.
"This is business as usual for Chrysler. Chrysler has been made the whipping boy for something that they never asked for," said Tom Florio, president of The New Yorker.
Mr. Florio said he declined to sign a letter from Chrysler demanding written summaries of editorial content, and was told by both agency and Chrysler executives to disregard the letter.
" 'Use your judgment,' they told me," Mr. Florio said. " 'You know what our policies are.' "
Marketers outside the auto industry, including Ameritech Corp. and Colgate-Palmolive Co., have been known to ask for warnings if their ads will appear alongside potentially controversial editorial. Liquor and beer advertisers generally have a policy of being moved out of issues or away from articles about alcoholism or drunken driving.
Chrysler's guidelines include not being near editorial that deals with controversial subjects such as graphic sex and violence or glorifications of drunken driving or drug use.
'USE GOOD JUDGMENT'
Drew Massey, founder and publisher of P.O.V., said he was told "to use our good judgment to pull them out of issues that we think they would not want to be in, and to move them to another issue."
Since its first letters went out in 1993, Chrysler said it has never pulled an ad without moving it to another issue. And Chrysler, which spent $269.5 million on magazines last year, said it has moved only 12 ads since it started tracking