Netflix's Sweet Tooth adaptation is now streaming and the series, based on the Vertigo Comics series by Jeff Lemire, has been winning over viewers and critics alike. However, a recent ad for the series on the front page of USA Today has sparked a bit of controversy with readers of the paper as well as just casual observers troubled by not only the ad's placement but its presentation with some calling it sensationalist by some media critics.
The ad in question is designed to look like the front page of a real edition of USA Today. This fictional front page carries "news" as it pertains to the Sweet Tooth series, including the headline "Hybrid babies born across the US". The rest of the page features what appears to be news stories about the hybrids and a promise of "exclusive photos inside". The advertisement looks extremely real, but if you look closely at the top the word "advertisement" is printed in smaller print.
Generally speaking, the controversy and the criticism of the ad comes down to two things. The first is concern that USA Today may be spreading misinformation by permitting an advertisement to look so much like news. While the ad does have the "advertisement" disclaimer, a few people on Twitter even noted that they had to do a double-take, having briefly been fooled. The other argument is that by running the ad USA Today has damaged its reputation for a cash grab. As television news anchor Pat Kiernan tweeted, "Still can’t quite believe that @USATODAY allowed the real paper to be wrapped in a fake paper about a world where people have grown antlers. (It was an ad for @SweetTooth on Netflix with minimal disclosure.)"
Still can’t quite believe that @USATODAY allowed the real paper to be wrapped in a fake paper about a world where people have grown antlers. (It was an ad for @SweetTooth on Netflix with minimal disclosure.) pic.twitter.com/otlNsr0bUt— Pat Kiernan (@patkiernan) June 4, 2021
Still, not everyone was upset by the ad. Some fans thought the ad was clever and only stoked their excitement for the series. A few even wrote that they'd gone out and bought the issue, something they do not ordinarily do.
Sweet Tooth follows the adventures of Gus (Christian Convery) — part deer, part boy — who leaves his home in the forest to find the outside world ravaged by a cataclysmic event. He joins a ragtag family of humans and animal-children hybrids like himself in search of answers about this new world and the mystery behind his hybrid origins. the series features an ensemble cast that also includes Dania Ramierez (X-Men: The Last Stand, Tell Me a Story), Nonso Anozie (Artemis Fowl, Game of Thrones), Adeel Akhtar (Victoria & Abdul, The Big Sick), and Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth, Saturday Night Live), with James Brolin (Life in Pieces, Amityville Horror, Westworld) as the voice of the narrator.