The story is that Mullen helped launch an online publication called The Next Great Generation, which claims to give 18 to 25 year olds a platform "to share their thoughts regarding life, work, brands, technology, environment, money, faith, sex, love."
On December 15, Rosa published an article named Beware The Next Great Generation:
Meet the “Next Great Generation Blog” a publication that wants “an opportunity for Millennial Generation writers to develop a voice and gather a following, along with a real chance for older generations to listen in,” according to an e-mail message sent from Generation blog editor Gillian Maffeo today and obtained by CampusProgress.
They fail to mention that the blog will also be a great opportunity for advertisers, too, as a little investigation shows the website is really a creation of the Boston-based Mullen public relations agency, and Maffeo is an account executive at the company.
Foster and Boches commented on the post and on Twitter, pointing out that The Next Great Generation's about page openly states that the blog was "started by Mullen’s Edward Boches" and asking Rosa for suggestions, to which Rosa replied in the comments:
It's like I rang the supper triangle for a bunch of "tech startup" advertising fanatics. I'm sorry, but I really don't have time to respond to people who can't read what I wrote or pen a coherent argument. And now, even funnier, Mullen is trying to ask for my advice via Twitter on how to improve their blog! (Actually admitting somewhere on the website that it's a product of an advertising agency to boost business would be a start….)
It's pretty hard to argue with Rosa's credentials, but is she seeing a conspiracy where none exists? Or do brands that sponsor content platforms have a responsibility to find unequivocal ways to disclose their involvement? When is clear not clear enough?
[Disclosure - Rosa and I both used to blog at SquareState and have met a few times at Drinking Liberally and other political functions.]