USA Today came under fire on social media this weekend for an advertisement that, at first glance, made it appear as if the paper was getting in the supermarket tabloid game by teasing human-animal hybrid babies. While it looked like a genuine front page from the newspaper, it was really an advertisement for the new Netflix series Sweet Tooth. The show, based on the DC Comics series by Jeff Lemire, was released on Netflix Friday.
The front page advertisement wrapped around the real front page, which included a report on the rising number of immigrants in a Texas border town. The ad featured an image from Sweet Tooth, showing a baby with goat horns. "Hybrid babies born across the US," the headline reads. "World reacts to new generation of half-human, half-animal children with both awe and concern." The only way to know that this was an ad and not the real headline for the June 4-6 edition was the word "ADVERTISEMENT" under the USA Today masthead, notes Insider.
Sweet Tooth is set in a world where babies are mysteriously born half-human, half-animal. The series is set a decade after the hybrid babies began emerging, and the cause remains unknown. Christian Convey plays Gus, a hybrid human who befriends Nonso Anozie's Jepperd, and they search what's left of America for answers. The first season runs eight episodes, and it has earned rave reviews from fans and critics.
Every day brings a new reason to be grateful I don't work for Gannett anymore pic.twitter.com/RlD7kdTXfH— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) June 5, 2021
While those who know of Sweet Tooth may have understood the USA Today front page was an advertisement for the show, many were shocked on Twitter. Some thought the paper really had started publishing stories similar to the unbelievable ones seen on supermarket tabloids.prevnext
"I was scanning front pages at work yesterday and stopped in disbelief at this @USATODAY ad. This wasn’t just in the paper. It was was *on top* of the actual front page," KGW journalist John Tierney tweeted. "Good god they sold the front page above the fold on a purely bogus shock advertisement? I never thought USA Today had standards, but HOLY S—," another person wrote.prevnext
So... USA Today (decently respected newspaper) has sold ad space where the newspaper's front page headline normally appears.— Chris Vickery (@VickerySec) June 5, 2021
The advertiser who bought that print space has filled it with a half-human half-animal "hybrid babies" claim.
Is USA Today taking a cyanide pill?
"Wrapping your newspaper with a fake front page about animal and baby hybrids was utterly tasteless," one person wrote. "If you have to do something so foolish to try and remain relevant, clearly you have a problem. (Before anyone points it out, I know this was a show advertisement.)"
"It appears as though USA TODAY wrapped their paper in an advertisement for a Netflix show with a replica front page. This isn't helping," another person commented.prevnext
The cover of the @USATODAY it’s an “advertisement” for a Netflix show. Soft disclosure if I have ever seen it. Never in my life have I seen a show advertised on the front page of a weekend newspaper. #ufotwitter 🛸 #hybrids #thetruthiscrazy #awholenewworld #disclosure pic.twitter.com/3znGHDj2LY— jefferson lee (@jeffers24511815) June 5, 2021
"I feel like most readers won’t understand that this decision to make the spadea look so much like a regular front page isn’t a USA Today newsroom decision, which just makes the paper look non-serious. I don’t think many are fooled, but I do feel like it hurts credibility," one person wrote. "The whole “front page” was a paid ad for a @netflix TV show called Sweet Tooth. The actual front page was beneath it. Shame on Netflix for buying the ad and shame on USA Today for selling it and running it," another wrote.prev