"It was hard to believe that Marco Pierre White was at my cooking school, making us risotto for lunch," gushes Bonnie Stern in Canada's National Post. The Post, currently the ninth-most read newspaper in Canada and the second largest in terms of distribution, is a conservative publication, and I expect it to be opinionated. But in the food section last month, opinion gave way to embarrassing adulation, cleverly orchestrated as part of an international campaign by one of the world's largest food companies.
The strategy: Send a celebrity to hypnotize the second-tier food press into reproducing their relentless product pitch in print. The resulting newspaper "articles" read like ad copy. In this case, the article appeared, with lavish photos, as the front full-page lead of the food section in the printed paper, but, aptly, was later moved to the opinion section on the newspaper's web site, photos omitted.