A Cover Ad That Mimics a Newspaper’s Front Page – ‘Alice in Wonderland’

The entire first page of The Los Angeles Times on Friday was an ad that looked, in part, like the front page of The Los Angeles Times, as the newspaper again tested the accepted limits on where ads can be published and how they can blur the boundary with news. A garishly multicolored image of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, in the film “Alice in Wonderland,” occupies most of the paper’s cover page, superimposed over what looks like the usual, sober front page. Above him is the “Los Angeles Times” banner, and bracketing his face are actual, recent articles. The top editor of The Times, Russ Stanton, and several of his deputies vigorously opposed the ad before it was published, but they were overruled by the paper’s business executives, according to people with direct knowledge of the dispute, who were granted anonymity to discuss private conversations. Ads that completely cover a publication’s front page, or are made to look like part of it — or both — are not unusual for trade magazines and some tabloid newspapers, but broadsheets have generally shunned them. But Mr. Conroy noted that however unorthodox the ad may be for print, it mirrors a common practice online of having an ad cover part or all of a Web site’s home page for a few seconds. Traditional limits on advertising have relaxed across the industry as newspapers struggle to cope with steep ad declines. The “Alice in Wonderland” ad, which also wraps around the paper, introduces a new wrinkle, lending the name and work of The Times to an advertiser.



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