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Over at Sports Illustrated, you can read an article about Tom Brady’s new line of sleepwear for A Company That Makes Stretchy Workout Stuff. The article contains the following lines:

  • “The TB12 Sleepwear line includes full-length shirts and pants—and a short-sleeve and shorts version—with bioceramics printed on the inside.”
  • “The print, sourced from natural minerals, activates the body’s natural heat and reflects it back as far infrared energy...”
  • “The line, available in both men’s [link to store for purchase] and women’s [link to store for purchase] sizes, costs between $80 to $100 [link to store for purchase].”
  • “[A Company That Makes Stretchy Workout Stuff]’s bioceramic-printed sleepwear uses far infrared energy to promote recovery...”

(There are quotes in the article, mostly from people with financial stakes in you buying these products. An actual sleep expert is quoted. He does not endorse or even reference the products discussed in this article, nor the science behind said products. His contribution to this article can be summed up as saying sleep is important.) 

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This is an advertisement, in every aspect save the one where money changed hands in exchange for its publication. (We think. This would honestly be a lot less embarrassing for SI to run if it were sponsored content and they just forgot to label it as such.) These sorts of advertisements, where certain types of reporters eagerly type up press releases because it’s quick and easy, are everywhere. 

Brands will pay to put things like Tom Brady saying “the sleepwear I wear is so critical to how I recover every night” in front of potential customers. In fact, they do. That’s how we get commercials, and print ads, and internet ads, and brands pay an agency to create those ads, and they pay a TV network or publication to put those ads where they can be seen. The people who make those ads, and the people who air and print those ads, make some seriously good money for this, because long ago it was discovered that the advertiser support is the only truly sustainable model for mass media, and advertising is an effective way to gain attention for a business.

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My point is that there’s demand for ad space, and that demand manifests as money. A Company That Makes Stretchy Workout Stuff is going to pay lots of places and people to give them the space to inform the public about Tom Brady’s pseudoscientific jammies. But Sports Illustrated did not make any money for this. They could have and they should have, and no publication should do a brand’s advertising for them for free. They will pay you! Don’t be dumb.

If you’re the type of reporter who wants to write this stuff—like SI’s Tim Newcomb, author of this Brady piece, and others including “New L.A. Rams stadium aims to be an indoor-outdoor entertainment experience,” “See the latest in Bryce Harper’s growing line of signature cleats”, and “Kentucky Derby to debut three new signature cocktails from Charles Joly”—just go into copywriting. It pays a lot better.