Did the LA Times sell out to Disney?

I picked up my LA Times from the driveway this morning and was faked out by seeing a full page photo of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in the Disney/Tim Burton movie “Alice in Wonderland” on the front page. It only took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn’t really the front page at all, but a full page ad (actually a 4-page wraparound) for the movie that obscured the real front page of the Times. With my background as an ad agency creative director, my first thought was “wow…what a creative use of media!”.

The media buy must have cost a small fortune, but the LA Times is in desperate need of money with Tribune Co. in bankruptcy and the movie is forecast  to be a blockbuster, so it was probably a deal made in heaven where both parties were winners. The buzz and PR value from the ad placement itself has to be priceless for both the Times and the film.

I decided to do a search on Twitter just to see how the ad industry, the newspaper industry and the world at large was responding, and there’s definitely a lot of comments out there, both positive and negative. Jamie Court of The Huffington Post says “Advertising used to sustain the news, now it’s obscured it. Shame on the Los Angeles Time (sic).” His stance was re-tweeted by a lot of people and a quick online survey showed that more people seemingly share his view than my kudos to the advertiser and the newspaper. In “The Wrap” blog Sharon Waxman reported that the editors defended the paper’s decision to place the ad, saying it was one of several “innovative approaches” the Times was trying. In fact, the editors said the LA Times would seek to repeat this kind of project in the future, and is always looking for interesting ways for advertisers to distincitively market.
What’s your take on the situation? Did the LA Times sell out? …or was it a smart and savvy business decision on their part?
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One Response to “Did the LA Times sell out to Disney?”

  1. Great advertising ploy! Wonderful way to greet the day. I loved it!

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