News & Insights

L.A. Times Creates Buzz With Newspaper Movie Ad

December 5, 2010

L.A. Times Newspaper AdThe Los Angeles Times, sister publication to Tribune Media Group’s Chicago Tribune, wrapped the front page of its March 5, 2010, edition with an image of Johnny Depp’s “Mad Hatter” character to promote the release of the film “Alice in Wonderland.” The prominent ad position generated publicity and buzz for both the release of the movie – as well as for the LA Times itself, as both supporters and detractors voiced their opinion on the novel placement.

The unique ad position sought to re-imagine a familiar new media advertising concept for the print medium. The advertising wrap featured the character’s face over fictitious, front page headlines, topped by the LA Times’ signature masthead.

The ad helped the film to an opening-weekend gross of $116 million. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, hoped the innovative position would change the way advertisers might look at newspaper advertising. To that end, the ad not only caught the eye of several major studios, but drew attention across the advertising industry as well.

While the ad unit opens the door to the possibilities of new and innovative print advertising, not everyone was thrilled. Detractors largely felt the ad’s positioning could affect perceptions of the news content itself. Newspapers take great pains to maintain an unbiased position on the news, and a front-page wrap touting a new film release might color audience perception otherwise. Somewhat ironically, the LA Times film critic delivered a less than favorable review of the film.

Despite the controversy, the ad unit achieved its goals – creating an indelible, attention-grabbing experience for the LA Times’ readers, while showcasing the paper’s willingness to push the envelope.

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