In recent years, the Huffington Post has gone from being a minor sideshow on the web to one of the Internet’s most popular sources of news, especially after founder Arianna Huffington sold her firm to wounded tech giant AOL.
But now the news site’s publisher has decided to work on the other side of the aisle, Huffington unexpectedly appearing in an Internet ad for Toyota. The spot, dubbed “Becoming Fearless,” has so far had limited play – running on the website TechCrunch.com — but it is nonetheless raising some serious concerns about the way the Web has blurred the boundaries between editorial and advertising.
“I see it as extremely unusual,” said Charles Eisendrath, director of the Knight Wallace Fellows journalism program at the University of Michigan. “If she’s going to pitch Toyotas it’s a first that I know of in the publishing business.”