Sam Slaughter is the VP of Content at Contently, and writes frequently about the intersection of advertising and journalism. He enjoys long walks on the beach, basketball and nachos, and is the owner of two dumb dogs. Follow him @samslaughter215.
On the seventh floor of a refurbished industrial building, just outside The Loop in Chicago, a pack of funny 20-somethings stands in front of a green screen, unwittingly trying to save the publishing industry.
Ostensibly, they’re simply shooting a commercial under the direction of Onion Labs, a rag-tag group of seven that serves as de-facto creative agency for the well-known satire site The Onion. Onion Labs is tasked with making sure that brands are able to effectively communicate with their audiences. In this instance, it means teaching a stodgy brand like Microsoft to be satirical, hilarious and most likely offensive to a least somebody.
It’s typically the work of a highly compensated ad agency. But it’s possible that the experiments of a site dedicated to fake news finds itself on the leading edge of a business model that changes the finance model of real journalism.
The buzz is whether brand-sponsored content is ruining publishing. But what if publishers could take control of the trend?
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