Journalism and advertising: Bella Lesnik advertises cream, Gala shows it

Bella Lesnik is the presenter of the RTL tabloid format Exclusive – the star magazine, but you can also know her from a TV commercial in which she praises skin care. “After 28 days, my skin is more radiant than ever before,” says Bella Lesnik. For the journalists of the traditional publishing house Gruner und Jahr, Lesnik’s skin care campaign is unlikely to beautify the complexion: They are allowed to experience a new type of business cosmetics that has threatened them since the Hamburg magazine house was bought by RTL.

Because Lesnik has also been part of the Gala-Management teams and writes the weekly editorials for the magazine as “Editor-at-Large”. In the imprint it even ranks above editor-in-chief Brigitte Huber.

About the “Olay Power-Duo-Collagen from Peptid24-Tagespflege and Retinol24-Nachpflege” and its prominent user not only among the TV viewers of the RTL universe, but also the readers of the Gala To bring it closer online, a special kind of celebrity placement was fabricated under the brand name of the Gruner-und-Jahr magazine: On it was The making-of of the commercial is presented editorially – but without any indication that Lesnik is part of the management team at Gala is. Marking the post as an advertisement is also in vain. That’s kind of like would Colorful– Editor-in-chief Robert Pölzer advertise appetite suppressants and be celebrated for them on

The cream manufacturer Procter & Gamble is an advertising customer of “Gala”

On the status of the merger of the hitherto rather posh Hamburg publishing house (Brigitte, Geo) and the Cologne broadcaster RTL announced the new bosses of RTL Germany, Stephan Schäfer and Matthias Dang, just in the Handelsblatt, they wanted to build a “media house of the future”. To this end, the brands of the two companies would be “further developed across all genres” and “thus united under one roof in a fragmented world of media offerings”. Schäfer, formerly a respected editor-in-chief at G + J, should now be not just a good journalist, but an even better businessman. However, Gruner und Jahr journalists fear that the publisher will be trimmed to a cross-channel profit machine. Gala and the TV magazine RTL Exclusive are meanwhile, to stay in the Schäfer language, “cross-genre” closely related. How close is shown by the delicate example of Lesnik.

Olay – this is the product Bella Lesnik raves about – is still known to many as Oil of Olaz. The skin care brand is owned by Procter & Gamble, one of the most important customers in the advertising market. The Lesnik commercial runs not only on all Ad Alliance channels, i.e. the RTL or Vox advertising marketer, but also on other private and public channels.

At the making-of on there is little to be seen of the announced “exclusive glimpses behind the scenes”. Instead, again a lot of praise for the Olay ingredients, retinol and collagen. Behind all the advertising activities of the RTL and Gruner and Jahr houses that want to complete the merger by the end of the year is the Ad Alliance, the marketer of RTL Germany. She not only produced the TV commercial for Procter & Gamble, but also the “Gala Beauty Talk” commercial, from which the pictures for the article on are taken. On top of that, Procter & Gamble is an advertising customer of Gala. Is that the journalistic added value that the new merged company has in mind?

Lesnik himself does not want to comment on SZ’s request. The publishing house Gruner und Jahr cannot find anything objectionable in Lesnik’s dual role. “For the users of, Bella Lesnik is primarily a person of public interest. Accordingly, she is also referred to as a moderator in some of the other posts on the portal, without any reference to her work as editor-at-large for the Gala-Print edition “, answers a publisher’s spokeswoman. The editors keep choosing actions such as an advertising shoot by VIP advertising partners, as these actions” are part of the world of the respective prominent person and are therefore of informational value for the user “.

The press code draws a sharp line between reporting and advertising

The German Association of Journalists DJV, on the other hand, sees it completely differently, they are appalled. “To be clear and straightforward to say, that is not possible,” says association spokesman Hendrik Zörner. “A journalist who advertises a cosmetics label is no longer an independent reporter. This also applies to magazines that have not yet been noticed as investigative spearheads.” It is a matter of “a new dimension in the violation of borders”. Zörner refers to the press code of the German Press Council, which draws a sharp line between reporting and advertising. The lack of separation usually leads to complaints.

“It is to be hoped that Ms. Lesnik’s activities will remain an isolated case. Otherwise Gruner and Jahr would have a serious credibility problem in a short space of time. Neither the publisher nor the many journalists at G + J could use that,” said Zörner. The DJV rates this case as “particularly serious”, since Gruner and Jahr have maintained “a high journalistic quality standard” in the past.

It is more than a marginal detail when a large-scale campaign is running on the Ad Alliance channels this year – the “Year to the Truth. Because it has to be right”. Under the motto “fact-oriented, responsible and transparent”, editors like that of Brigitte, Stern, but also Gala “Fighting disinformation”. It’s about journalism – too. The official press release says literally: “For advertising placements, quality journalism means a high level of brand safety.”

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