Inside Move: L.A. Times gives an ad-driven wet kiss

Congratulatory ad to Weinstein Co. raises eyebrows

When the Weinstein Company launched a lavish print campaign announcing itself last week — double-spread ads heralding the new company ran in Daily Variety and the New York Times — the company got an additional plug from an unlikely source: the Los Angeles Times.

Studio execs across town were surprised Friday morning when they opened up their L.A. Times and were greeted by a full-page ad congratulating the Weinstein Co. on “their new endeavor.”

The ad, from the L.A. Times Motion Picture Advertising Team, went on to list 17 of the company’s projects.

Its timing was pegged to Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s last day overseeing Miramax, which will live on at Disney minus the brothers.

The ad prompted grumbling around town that the spread essentially amounted to payback for all the high-profile Oscar campaign ads the Weinsteins had bought in the paper over the years.

For years, Miramax has typically been a major buyer of Academy Award-related movie ads in both the New York and L.A. Times, as well as Daily Variety and Variety.

Even so, it’s highly unusual for a consumer newspaper to advertise for one of its clients. A full-page, color ad in the Times costs about $50,000.

The L.A. Times did not return a phone call from Daily Variety.

As for celebrating new film companies, no such wet kisses were lavished on DreamWorks when it was formed in 1994 or, more recently, when New Line and HBO (both hefty ad buyers themselves) formed Picture House.

Besides showing what an 800-pound gorilla the Weinsteins are to ad salesmen, even at a time when financing for their new company has not been completely secured, the move by the Times also underlines the current rocky publishing climate, in which advertisers more than ever before keep publications alive. The paper is not the only pub that has raised eyebrows: In August, the New Yorker was criticized for carrying 18 pages of ads from Target Stores.

The Weinstein Co. had no comment.

(Ian Mohr in New York contributed to this report.)