"Accidental Housewife" Intentionally Hides Her Sponsor Ties

Homemaking expert just happens to love all her clients' products

Submitted by Daniel Price on
Clients: Knowledge Adventure, Brother, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Tide to Go, Drugstore.com
Release Date: December 2005
Aired By: 3 stations
Disclosed By: No stations

In the many weeks leading up to Christmas, the TV newscasts are filled with stories about the best holiday gifts to buy your loved ones. Virtually all of these pieces include some kind of advice from an authoritative consumer expert.

Sadly, some of the stories—as well as some of the experts—are secretly bought and paid for by major corporations. One such expert is Julie Edelman.

Calling herself "The Accidental Housewife," Edelman appears on local and national news programs as a lifestyle expert, sharing her "housewifely wit and wisdom." What she doesn't share is that since 2001, she's partnered with D S Simon Productions to promote various products and services through guest appearances on news programs. In other words, she's a shill. And her financial ties to the companies she plugs are virtually always hidden from the viewing audience.

Julie Edelman

Case in point: on December 14, 2005, WCCB-18 (Charlotte, NC) aired a live satellite interview with Edelman on the best stocking stuffers to buy this holiday season. From her remote studio, Julie gave a visual demonstration of her personal picks, including the Build-a-Bear Workshop, the Brother electronic labeling device, and the Tide-to-Go portable stain remover ("A must-have!" exclaimed Edelman).

But Edelman's picks were anything but personal. Her appearance was jointly funded by Build-A-Bear, Brother, Tide-to-Go and two other companies who just happened to make the very products she was heartily recommending.

The SMT also ran live on KGUN-9 (Tucson, AZ). KYTX-19 (Tyler, TX) ran an edited tape version of the SMT nine days after the interview was conducted. At no point during any of these appearances did Edelman or her interviewers reveal her endorsement deal to viewers at home.

The Center for Media and Democracy has observed Edelman playing the objective expert in two video news releases (VNRs): a Halloween "tips and trends" story funded by Masterfoods and 1-800-Flowers, and a Christmas shopping feature sponsored by Toshiba, Fisher Price and Scholastic Media.

See the original VNR and the WCCB-18 SMT interview with Julie Edelman below.

Original Client VNR WCCB-18 7AM newscast
Created by D S Simon Productions December 14, 2005
Featuring Julie Edelman SMT interview with Julie Edelman