by Cochran

This Is Not a Test?

Did you happen to notice the web link Thomas Friedman used in his column last Tuesday? He’s my favorite op-ed columnist at The New York Times, hands down.

Tuesday’s piece was entitled “This Is Not a Test. This Is Not a Test.” It centered around the fact that despite the dire economic straits we are in as a country, according to Friedman, “We seem to be playing politics as usual.” Friedman went on to lay out some viable options for coming up with a solid strategy for getting our country out of its current financial crisis. As important as Friedman’s words were and always are, what I particularly noticed is that he imbedded a link to a website within his column. Now, this is certainly nothing new. We often see web links within Times articles that help us clarify and learn more about the columns we’re reading.

But, this link was different. It linked to a site that had seemingly nothing to do with the content of his column last Tuesday. Friedman wrote, “A.I.G., Citigroup and General Motors … are not” The hyperlink was on which led the reader to the website for Petsmart.

Pretty interesting, eh? Product placement at its best? I fell for it, partly out of curiosity, but also because I, like surely thousands of other New York Times readers, own a dog.

And, here’s the best part. Since I trust Thomas Friedman and literally hang on his every word, this was no less than a celebrity endorsement of Petsmart, as far as I’m concerned!

I wonder how much Petsmart paid for the placement. I also wonder what the hit rates were on the Petsmart site last Tuesday.

Contrary to the title of Friedman’s piece, I think it was a marketing test! I also think it was brilliant! What do you think? Are you seeing this technique being used out there?

(And, by the way, the reason I appreciate Friedman’s writing so much is that he never fails to make me stop and think.)


March 14, 2009 - Posted by | Online Marketing


  1. I read Tom Friedman’s column, but in the newspaper and not online so I wouldn’t be able to follow an imbedded link. I did not happen to read that article (the News & Record doesn’t carry all of his columns). I’m a little surprised that he would be engaging in “product placement”. Maybe he was testing to see what kind of response it generated.

    Comment by Alan Goland | July 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Yes, as his headline suggests, there was a whole lotta testing goin on!

      Comment by cochrancreates | July 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. I am just now reading your blog. Personally, if a link led me to Petsmart, I would not go any further, not being a fan of Petsmart. Like Alan Goland, would also be a bit skeptical of an editorial writer engaged in “product placement”, and would love to learn more about the outcome. It is my experience that people in this market are just beginning to understand the power of this marketing tool (unless it is tied to a sporting event), whereas the film industry got it years ago.

    Comment by Michele van Gobes | July 31, 2009 | Reply

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