The Los Angeles Times’ ad-sales department seems to love stepping into great big steaming messes courtesy of Hollywood, but arguably none has been bigger than its latest four-page spread for the King Kong attraction at Universal Studios.
Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein defended the ad, after the Los Angeles County supervisors collectively chided the paper for muddying its journalistic mission.
Compared to some of the past flaps, including the awkward-looking ad for the L.A.-based cop drama “Southland,” this one might have been the worst. Even I had to rub my eyes and look twice, momentarily thinking there had been some big disaster at Universal after I went to bed that somehow made the LATExtra section. (By the way, it’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: LATExtra really does sound like a special kind of condom.)
The whole sad affair smacks of desperation both on the part of the Times and Universal, which is clearly betting on Kong to jump-start its summer. Everyone is scraping for extra cash these days, as Hartenstein noted, but that doesn’t mean you have to go about it in a stupid way. And before anyone starts saying “pot calling kettle,” there’s an obvious difference between advertising in the trades and a consumer newspaper, especially when you’re falsely suggesting that some “disaster” occurred.
Full disclosure: I’m an L.A. Times alum — although having left in 2003, the statute of limitations is probably winding down on that status — and my wife works for Disney Imagineering, which provides technology to the Disney parks.