Personal branding using paid advertising

When you notice ‘Brand Connect’ in a magazine (or a newspaper), what goes in your mind? Most people in the marketing space know that it is a euphemism for ‘paid advertising’. Instead of saying, “We paid for this space because we don’t think we could convince a journalist adequately in this media organization to write about us” (which sounds completely unflattering), it is diplomatically framed as ‘Brand Connect’.

But what happens when this ‘Brand Connect’ is utilized to praise an individual instead of a company or a brand?

I stumbled on two examples like this in Forbes India magazine recently.

For comparison, here are a few brand and brand+personality ‘Brand Connect’ features.

‘Brand Connect’ in Forbes India magazine’s website costs Rs.250,000, excluding GST. I don’t know the price for the e-print version.

Would all/most readers of Forbes India magazine be aware that this is a paid-for spot? I’d guess so, give the reader profile, broadly. Or, is this intended for those who wouldn’t make that distinction and/or do not care?

If we were to assume that, wouldn’t a paid-for full-page that sings praises about one individual so explicitly be seen as a vanity project? For brands, it helps build visibility, no doubt.

But, in the case of individuals, while adding to visibility, what other feelings does it evoke in readers? An interview with these individuals, done via PR efforts, that may lead to the same kind of an article, is a very different story. But when this is a paid advertisement, the feeling is perhaps closer to seeing a promoted tweet or a promoted Facebook post where an individual praises him/herself – awkward.

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