It’s “Hard” Being Ed McMahon -or- The Dangers of Outsourcing

I absolutely love the Wall Street Journal online edition. The WSJ is one of the most well-written newspapers in the business, and has provided endless fodder for conversations with everyone from executives to politicians to mechanics. This morning however, it provided some conversational fodder of an unintended sort.

I was reading an article about Ed McMahon, the TV personality having his Beverly Hills home enter foreclosure. Finishing the article, I was about to browse a different section of the paper when I noticed an odd entry in the “Sponsored Links” section:

While assuredly the WSJ did not intentionally place the ad for, err, “synthetic hardening products” in this section, it shows the danger of outsourcing critical competencies. I’m not a rabid anti-outsourcing person, and have advised plenty of clients to investigate the option, but would never suggest casually handing over something that is critical to a company’s brand reputation.

Newspapers make the preponderance of their money on advertising, and to some extent, the advertisements reflect the values and audience of the paper to its readers. While the WSJ likely gets a few pennies for each person that clicks the aforementioned “Sponsored Link,” were I a bit more easily offended I might have a strong negative reaction to the Journal that would take far more than a few cents to repair.

Let’s investigate that equation again, and let it sink in for a moment before you drop a core process into someone else’s lap: a few pennies for a “male enhancement” link versus irreparable damage to a 100 year old brand.


Has it sunk in? Great. Now a few links from our sponsor:
(Just Kidding)


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