LA Times Angers Readers With Front Page Ad, Offers Lame Defense
On Wednesday the LA Times ran a full page ad on the front page of the newspaper for Law & Order: Los Angeles. While a wrap, the ad mimicked the actual paper's front page including the masthead and carried the headline, "Media Icon Hit by Crime Wave." To say the least, readers were miffed. One reader, Jesse Taylor, told ABC News, "I think it's irresponsible journalism but if their goal is to just shock then they did their job."
USC Creative Media Professor Doe Mayer derided the paper and NBC for the ad saying, "I think they've said something by what they've done. I think their actions speak far louder than any words that they can say. They've said that the commercialism of this, the financial implications of this are more important than what journalism should mean in our society"
The LA Times was the only paper to place the ad on the front of the paper. While the ad did appear in other newspapers, those papers chose to place the ad inside as an insert.
Offering a somewhat lame defense of the ad, LA Times VP of Communication Nancy Sullivan, said, "The Times collaborated with NBC to launch 'Law & Order Los Angeles' in a big, creative way for the hometown audience. This is an exciting, innovative ad that takes the show's beloved, 20-year 'ripped from the headlines' concept and puts it front and center for Southern California."
But, Nancy, some things are just sacrosanct. Off limits. Not to be messed with. Small ads on the front page seem to be acceptable. Sponsored edidorial seems to be acceptable. But an ad that takes on the exact look and feel of a newspaper's front page, at least for now, goes too far.
Yes, every last tenet of advertising is being tested as marketers continue to fight for the all important, yet distracted and wandering, eyeball. This move isn't a surprise. It's just a depressing indicator that some media are drowning and are willing to do absolutely anything to stay afloat.