Cox Media Group Using Mentally Ill To Sell Product

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They are indeed busy little bees up there in the C-Suite at the Cox Media Farm! I gotta hand it to them this time – for their latest marketing campaign we’re not supposed to realize is going on. (See this post/internal memo for Cox history on what we don’t need to know as an audience.)

The flagship Cox product, the AJC, has an excellent series now about the mentally ill in Georgia, the weakest members of society, that AJC management is using (good journalism or otherwise aside) as a means to promote their print product and increase app downloads.

See this footer they’re slapping on the brief, online products for this series:

In Friday’s newspaper, the AJC presents the second part of an update to our “Hidden Shame” series on Georgia’s psychiatric hospitals and group homes. The full, deeper story is one you’ll get only by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad appSubscribe today.

Now I’m all for linking up the world and the various media products in whatever ways you can dream up. I do it all the time.

But using the mentally ill in Georgia, and one’s access to creating media like this around the most troubled members of society, causes me a few troubling concerns. (NOTE: The AJC has since pulled down what was a slide show of pictures of the mentally ill in jail. Try this video instead.)

I love digital marketing and new ideas in new media as much as the next good capitalist, but using one’s access (in good faith presumably) to the mentally ill to do so? Does Cox have full, written (lucid and coherent) permission to use the sick people’s images in such ways? I sure hope so.

I feel a little disturbed seeing distressed members of society being pimped-out in such a blatant, no-holds-barred, crass media way as to create a special pipeline and a need for more AJC print products, and to increase iPad app downloads. All with the intention of showing one’s advertisers all that great new data/analytics.

This great marketing campaign sure seems a long way from the work Alan Judd did to bring to light horrors in the Georgia state mental patient care system.

Who knows how this series on the mentally ill will play or be cross-promoted at Cox’s other large product, WSB-TV, if at all. I’m not sure I care to see that much Cox product anyway. Everywhere. As I’ve got the marketing message down by now.

After all, it is the most important part of this story.

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