You may have noticed that a large percentage of flat surfaces in America are currently occupied by those vaguely enraging tri-panel HSBC ads, where identical images are given different captions to prove that—I suppose—HSBC does not believe in a Kantian sense of moral absolutism. "A child: Love. Responsibility. Welfare Fraud." Now the bank is sponsoring this week's entire issue of New York magazine, meaning you'll have more than a dozen new chances to soak in HSBC's triumvirates of relativism. But considering the timing, it's worthwhile to ask: "Banks sponsoring entire issues: Smart. The Future. Monumental Fuckup?" This issue has been "in the works for several months," meaning that the bank sure as hell didn't know it would be running in the midst of The Great Depression Pt. 2. HSBC says it's all very "timely and appropriate." Mm hmm. Regardless of the intent, the real question is, is this sort of thing wise? With a bad economic outlook for advertising in general, publications themselves certainly hope so. Banks are mostly wandering trying every possible ad strategy right now—from comedy to doomsaying—in search of something that's effective. They don't really know what to do. Shhh! But! The one thing we know is that the proliferation of media makes it increasingly hard for advertisers to get their messages out. So buying all the ad space in a magazine or on a website is probably just going to gain favor as a tactic. They just need to make sure they're not buying it in something that's about to fold. That would be embarrassing. [NYT]