Balancing your responsibilities to advertisers and editorial integrity can be a difficult thing for a media business, as the good folk at ever-churning media and jobs site Pedestrian TV know only too well.
The site dishes up content for a 16- to 35-year-old audience they describe as “affluent, influential and hungry for new information and experiences”, an apparently lucrative endeavour which has seen them team-up with brands including Intel, BMW Mini, Lipton Ice Tea and Contiki.
This week Pedestrian joined forces with Rekorderlig Cider to throw an Australia Day party and generally help the brand get its saccharine but surprisingly alcoholic lolly-water into the newsfeeds and timelines of as many people as possible. Those millennials, remember, are affluent, influential and hungry – Rekorderlig appears to have gambled that they’re thirsty as hell too.
So the two brands threw what Pedestrian dubbed a gathering of “offensively beautiful folk to celebrate our A+ island home”. Three cheers for Invasion Day, kids! Photos of the party were then shared on social media with Rekorderlig’s insignia never far from sight.
The problem was, this celebration of January 26 looked a little out of place among the site’s editorial coverage, which had pointed out the day was used by some First Nations peoples to “mourn an attempted genocide”. Presumably none of those people were invited to the party, which might have been a bit of a downer. To their credit Pedestrian also plastered the site with original images and reporting from protests around the country. And then there was this tough but fair piece on a sports drink company Maximus that insensitively cashed-in on the poorly chosen national holiday to help flog their wares.
“If you were to head to Maximus Australia’s ‘About’ section on their Facebook, you’d find them encouraging people to share things to ”the man cave”, like funny shit or ‘manly’ behaviour involving their ‘man-size’ bottles of sports drink,” wrote News Editor Alex Bruce-Smith.
“What you’ll actually find, however, is people who are straight-up disgusted with their misguided attempt to create a ‘highly shareable’ marketing campaign for Australia Day.”
All good. Except when the same thing happened at Pedestrian the next day, and readers started leaving critical comments after the site shared images of the party from its Facebook page.
Satirical paper The Betoota Advocate couldn’t help but have a dig in a comment which was soon deleted.
Thankfully, Thom Parry got to it first.
Next thing you know the entire story had vanished from social media, though we’ve been led to understand it will reappear on Pedestrian’s various channels again in the near future. The images of the party remain on their website.
Pedestrian co-founder Chris Wirasinha summarised the outlet’s editorial dilemma as follows. “The commercial reality is if we didn’t throw the party we’d be in New Matilda’s position,” he said. “We’d have no money.”
Needless to say, the prospect of Pedestrian’s ongoing financial viability is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be concerned about most.