When you run a paid advertisement deliberately made up to look like editorial content (under the horrible euphemism “native advertising”) on behalf of a wealthy and powerful criminal conspiracy hiding behind a religious front – an organization that goes after critical journalists by, for example, poisoning their dogs – and in admitting the screw-up you say:
Our decision to pull the campaign should not be interpreted as passing judgment on the advertiser as an organization.
some folks are going to wind up regarding you as unclear on the concept.
The concept, in case you’re genuinely unclear rather than just having to run all your prose past Legal, is “evil.”
It might help clarify matters if you could just for a minute, forget about your goddamned “brand” and concentrate on the simple difference between right and wrong. Or stop quoting Emerson. Emerson, you might recall, was big on Truth, on self-reliance, on “trust thyself.” Branding, not so much.
h/t Jay Rosen, who offers a more thorough discussion.
Footnote Yes, tacitly censoring the comments to make it appear that the readers were taken in made it worse, but no, there was no version of this that could have made it OK. Lie down with dogs; get up with fleas.