People managed to rush Natasha Richardson's skiing accident on the cover this week, but it also appears to have pulled a magazine no-no by promoting advertorial on the cover.
The top coverline on this week's issue features a promo line for a "3-D PHOTO SPECIAL" with "GLASSES INSIDE!" The "special" is six spreads of nauseating 3-D photos sponsored by McDonald's, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and something called "Real D 3D." It's introduced by a page—clearly labeled a "promotion"—with some strange language about how Time Inc. thinks 3-D technology is changing the world and therefore they got a bunch of companies to sponsor a very strange section featuring 3-D photos.
There's editorial content inside the section—profiles of animal actors, like the Taco Bell Chihuahua and that monkey from Friends—written by People staffers. But it's clear that the whole thing is sponsored, and wouldn't be in the magazine but for the good graces of McDonald's et. al.
It's run-of-the-mill desperate accomodation of advertisers in a dying business, but the American Society of Magazine Editors says you're not supposed to put ads on the front page. Not that anybody cares, and hopefully it will result in one less layoff at the magazine.
Still—do you have to promo that stuff on the cover, People? It's depressing.