There's likely some hair pulling on Spring Street today, as the Los Angeles Times' Wednesday issue hit driveways with what's likely its most questionable front-page advertisement yet.
As Variety first reported a few weeks ago, NBC and the L.A. Times were plotting a marketing push for "Law & Order: Los Angeles" that promised to be bigger (read: more controversial) than previous campaigns for "Southland" and Universal Studios — both of which also included mock stories and newspaper pages that left many journos and newspaper purists with a bad taste in their mouth.
This is what we wrote on Sept. 11:
Los Angeles Times staffers might also want to brace for another NBC ad that blurs the line between editorial and advertising: The Peacock has partnered with the paper for a stunt surrounding "Law and Order: Los Angeles," in a similar vein to the past controversial NBC/"Southland" and Universal Studios/"King Kong" ads in the paper.
Those ads caused a stir at the paper, where staffers said such ads undermined their credibility. But given the noise they generated, NBC U deemed the buys a success.
"Where our 'Southland' and King Kong ads left off, 'LOLA' will pick up," Stotsky says, "and hopefully surpass both of these events."
Looking at this full-blown section, which looks more like actual editorial copy than the previous ads, I'd say they probably will get their wish: This is not going to go over well with many folks on the journalism side of things.
From an NBC promo angle, however, I'd say it's a win — it definitely got my attention, and "LOLA" already has strong awareness, so this can only help.
These editorial-style ads are becoming common; the L.A. Times also caught heat for an ad promoting Disney's theatrical release "Alice in Wonderland"; the paper's website also recently featured a mock old L.A. Times front promoting "Boardwalk Empire."
One more thing: The first image readers see is a mock photo of NBC's old Burbank headquarters, with a busted logo and grafitti scrawled all over the place. Two thoughts:
(A) The Universal Studios ad also featured a shot of an NBC U property, in this case Universal Studios, in a state of destruction. What is it about NBC U spreading images of its headquarters in a state of disaster? They do realize the symbolism of that, yes?
And (B) Has anyone questioned Jeff Zucker? He'd be my chief suspect for all that Peacock vandalism.
Here are more pages from the section: