Don't miss the latest stories
Netflix Faces Criticism For Misleading Newspaper Ad With Pages Of Fake News
By Alexa Heah, 09 Jun 2021
Image via Netflix
The premise behind Netflix’s new live-action series Sweet Tooth is an interesting one: the sudden appearance of half-human, half-animal hybrids during a pandemic sees “regular” persons hunting these hybrids out of fear.
In an effort to promote the adaptation of the DC Comics series, Netflix timed Sweet Tooth’s June 4 premiere with an advertorial on the weekend edition of USA Today. However, it seems the advertorial might be receiving more backlash than applause.
Copies of USA Today were available to purchase at newsstands, wrapped in a full, front-page advertorial.
At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be an advertisement to the reader. Instead, according to Gizmodo, the tabloid-style stories seem to be legitimate pieces about human-animal hybrids posing a national security risk to the US.
Is anyone talking about USA Today selling its front page to Netflix for Sweet Tooth? pic.twitter.com/1DGgdO13HT— Adam Graham (@grahamorama) June 6, 2021
Various headlines were sensationalized to sound like actual news stories, such as “Hybrid babies born across the US: World reacts to new generation of half-human, half-animal children with both awe and concern,” and “General calls hybrids a threat to national security; Activists fight back.”
When readers flipped to the following page, the nature of the advertisement wasn’t completely clear either. Featuring pictures from the first episode of the series, more “news” accompanied the images, with hyper-realistic headlines like “Silver River Hospital reacts to hybrid pandemonium.”
While full-page, wrap-around advertorials are common features in weekend editions of newspapers, readers were confused by how little indication was given that the “news” was fake. It was likely one would have missed the one-word “ADVERTISEMENT” disclosure in small print.
Social media users found the advertorial a little too realistic, especially in the age of misinformation where journalists are tasked with weeding out fake news.
When contacted by Gizmodo, a spokesperson for USA Today said that “the campaign was clearly labeled an advertisement and adhered to our advertising guidelines and protocols.”
It remains to be seen if such hyperrealistic “news” advertorials will be a Netflix one-off, or would add to the already cluttered landscape, blurring the lines between journalism and misinformation.
[via Gizmodo, cover image via Netflix]
More related news
Also check out these recent news