It’s hard to write this without coming across as sarcastic, but I mean it genuinely: It’s a stroke of genius that CBC paid to post their own Buzzfeed list “22 CBC Shows Every Canadian Needs in their Life” as a brand publisher and is now paying to promote it on Twitter as Buzzfeed’s list.
I’ve seen several examples featuring different listed shows, written as if it’s not CBC’s own content they’re shilling:
— CBC (@CBC) September 18, 2015
Advertorials aren’t new, though there are fancy new names for them, like branded content. But the CBC to Buzzfeed to Twitter path takes advantage of this new-fangled social media thing in a way Canadian networks and shows haven’t always done well. It also takes advantage of the fact that few people click on the link to read the actual story and even fewer pay attention to the byline. So most Twitter users who see the promoted tweets, whether they click or not, will assume Buzzfeed has endorsed the featured show instead of that CBC is paying both Buzzfeed and Twitter to imply Buzzfeed endorsed it.
With 22 shows to feature (22? seriously? isn’t that everything CBC produces?) they’re making sure they get a lot of bang for that advertising-dressed-up-as-earned-media buck. This is the kind of advertising that could reach people who aren’t already the captive CBC audience.
And if you read the advertorial and didn’t realize it was one? There was no actual deception, and it’s caveat emptor on what we buy in our information-saturated lives. Plus the worst that can happen is it makes you check out a CBC show you might not have heard of before. And after all 22 start airing, maybe someone paid by Buzzfeed will like some of them enough to write about them, too.