NBC’s ‘Southland’ Pushes Ad Limits in L.A. Times

Apr 9, 2009  •  Post A Comment

NBC is promoting tonight’s premiere of “Southland” with a front-page ad in today’s Los Angeles Times that appears to be unlike any other front page ad the paper has run previously.
Los Angeles Times Cover - April 9, 2009
That’s because the ad is designed to resemble a news story.
As part of the next phase in its extensive marketing campaign for the John Wells-produced drama, NBC has bought a traditional strip advertisement that will run across the bottom of the Times’ page one and will feature key art from the show. It will be adjacent to another paid ad unit: an advertorial-type feature story documenting the first day on the job of a fictional Los Angeles Police Department rookie cop.
The faux story, headline “Southland’s Rookie Hero,” will promise readers a ride-along with new LAPD officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) during his first day on duty. To avoid reader confusion, the story will be printed in a different typeface than normal Times stories, and will also feature a prominent disclaimer: The NBC peacock logo and the word “advertisement” will appear just above the ad’s headline.
The story will run just below the page one fold, and will extend to the bottom part of the page where the more traditional “Southland” ad is set to run. The adjacency, as well as the fact that the story carries no byline and doesn’t jump inside to another page. are also designed to make sure readers know they’re looking at paid content.
“Today’s consumer is sophisticated enough to pick up on these things,” said Adam Stotsky, president of marketing for NBC Entertainment.
At the bottom of the story is a message, in italics, noting that the above was “just one of the many incredible stories” from the new NBC series “Southland” and that viewers should tune in tonight.
NBC is no stranger to product integration, regularly looking for ways to show off an advertiser such as Applebee’s in a show such as “Friday Night Lights.” Now, however, it’s NBC that’s looking to work its product into someone else’s editorial content.
“This is a great way to integrate our messaging into their editorial content,” Mr. Stotsky said.
NBC didn’t have to work hard to convince the Times to try the possibly groundbreaking messaging.
“They developed the idea and came to us with it,” Mr. Stotsky said, crediting L.A, Times Vice President of Entertainment Advertising Lynne Segall for spearheading the promotion.
“It’s a reflection of the overall media landscape,” Mr. Stotsky said. “We have to innovate or we perish.”
He said the Times ad helps “contextualize our message.”
“We’re telling the stories of police officers and detectives in Los Angeles. What better way to market that than in their hometown paper,” Mr. Stotsky explained. “The more contextualized you can make your marketing, the more engaging it becomes.”
A statement from the Times indicated the paper was well aware it was entering uncharted territory.
“The delivery of news and information is a rapidly changing business, and the Los Angeles Times is continuously testing innovative approaches,” the paper said. “That includes creating unique marketing opportunities for our advertising partners, and today’s NBC ‘Southland’ ad was designed to stretch traditional boundaries.”
NBC and Mr. Stosky have done numerous print campaigns with made-up editorial content. To promote February drama “Kings,” for example, the network published a special section in Time magazine designed to mimic that week’s Man of the Year content.
Mr. Stotsky’s staff wrote the “Southland” story in Thursday’s Times, with the paper’s sales and marketing staff giving input on matter such as font size (but not specific ad copy, according to an LA Times spokesperson).
The executive said NBC and the Times did have some debates over the exact look of the ad. “Figuring out type treatment and branding so that their readers knew this was an ad was a discussion for us,” Mr. Stotsky explained. “We landed on a solution that was comfortable for both of us.”
Mr. Stotsky declined to say how much NBC paid for the front-page ad package.
“But the L.A. Times recognizes that their most valued real estate is their front-page news section,” he said. “It was priced accordingly.”
(Editor: Baumann. Updated with details on Times’ staff’s involvement in writing copy.)

65 Comments

  1. Interesting. Now, I have to ask. Is this an ad, or a story? If it’s an ad, how much did the LA TIMES and NBC pay TV WEEK for the great placement? And if it’s a story, did the network or the Times help you write it?
    Everything about the mock-story ad concept is fine with me, EXCEPT the part where the LA TIMES “helped” write the fake story. Gotta figure that NBC’s marketing guys can write their own fake news story, right? If not, I hope the TIMES marketing (NOT editorial) team pitched in.
    If TIMES editorial staffers are spending time writing fake news stories for NBC, then the ad/edit firewall is made of tissue paper, and we’re all in danger of going up in flames.

  2. Anyone who can’t tell it’s an ad, rather than a story, needs new glasses. The “story” is clearly set off with a dark rule that links it to the ad, and the first words at the top of the “story” are “NBC,” with the peacock logo, and “advertisement.” Pretty obvious.

  3. The author has GOT to be kidding – that ad looks nothing like a news story:
    >> It’s surrounded by the rest of the page by a thick black box.
    >> It uses an entirely different font from everything else on the page.
    >> It has a brightly colored NBC logo and the word “Advertisement” right at the top.
    >> It has an italicized slug at the bottom which clearly identifies it as nothing more than a promotional write-up for a TV show.
    Is the author really that inept when it comes to understanding how readers would interpret something like this, or does he just have a personal axe to grind with the LA Times? And where was his editor on this — is this really the kind of blatantly biased reporting TV Week and Crain Communications should be known for?

  4. How out of touch is NBC anyway? A newspaper ad? Aren’t readership levels at historic lows with newspapers going out of business? Ridiculous.

  5. As far as a true advertorial goes, I’d judge this a failure (except for the press coverage it seems to be generating). The restrictions on typography apparently placed on NBC by the paper make it SO obvious this isn’t a news story that the “advertorial” effect is completely missing.
    Contrast this with most magazines, which allow advertisers to much more closely imitate the magazine’s font size, leading and letterspacing, and thus allow for a far more successful blurring of the line.
    For concept, I give them an A-minus.
    For execution, I give them a D.

  6. NBC IS SO FAR IN THE CELLER THEY WILL TRY AND FAIL AT EVERYTHING THEY SO!! THEY WASTE SO MUCH MONEY IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY!! I SAY START TO CLEAN HOUSE !!! N-O-W !!!!

  7. Todd, read the article would ya — Mr. Stotsky’s staff wrote the “Southland” story in Thursday’s Times, with the paper’s sales and marketing staff giving input on matter such as font size (but not specific ad copy, according to an LA Times spokesperson).

  8. R.I.P. Print Media
    Would someone just shoot the poor thing? Watching it suffer like this is just inhumane and ugly.

  9. This pathetic selling of one’s principles and integrity by the owners of the Los Angeles Times merely enforces the paper’s total lack of credibility as a true news media.
    I would have expected to see this sort of thing on the cover of THE ENQUIRER or GLOBE.
    (with my deepest apologies to those two publications)

  10. Principles? Integrity? The LA Times?
    Gimme a break. This rag gave up on “news” over 40 years ago.

  11. Does it really matter?

  12. But, it sounds like some researchers just scrounging for research dough. ,

  13. Thank you for a great post

  14. Good post, thanks

  15. Seriously, who’ re the folks who are looking at this shit and continue allowing it to be popular? Show after show, article after journal!

  16. A very great article and great blog. Is there any way I can subscribe to new articles, you know like acquiring them on email or something like that.

  17. Viewing sibling spouses…these bitches are insane. I could in share my husband!

  18. There seemed to be a explosive device outside the Ulster Bank in Derry location.

  19. WingNutbag Sharron Angle applies twilight zone fairyland scare tactics hoping of inspiring votes of naive more aged.

  20. Looking for a luxury fountain pen? Check our new silver and gold pens. http://www.replicapenshop.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=35_46

  21. House Republicans already have tapped not one but two fresh selected congressmen that drew tea party backing in their campaigns to help guide the party’s cross over to power.

  22. This is good info! Where else can if ind out more?? Who runs this joint too? Keep up the good work :)

  23. This is the best blog I’ve ever seen in my life! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to share your this with everyone.

  24. Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

  25. I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I’m very very impressed.

  26. Great wordpress blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! take care and see you soon

  27. Neat blog layout! Very easy on the eyes.. i like the colors you picked out

  28. That is my first time I have visited here. I’ve discovered so much interesting stuff in your blog. From the tons of comments on your articles,to all the totally different posts. I guess I am not the one one having all the good reading here! keep up the great work. Thank you…

  29. High quality info here! Keep up the great work. I love the feelings being expressed.

  30. Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also I will be back to read more in the future.

  31. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply back as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know wheere u got this from. thanks

  32. I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

  33. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  34. I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog. Did you code this yourself or was it done by a professional? I’m very very impressed.

  35. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

  36. Hehe, u cant be serious??

  37. A very great article and great blog

  38. Neat blog layout! Very easy on the eyes.. i like the colors you picked out

  39. cling on to

  40. I cling on to

  41. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  42. really usefull

  43. great!

  44. I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

  45. Nice blog post, I like it very much.
    Thanks.

  46. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  47. I like your blog.

  48. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned :)

  49. This is good info! Where else can if ind out more?? Who runs this joint too? Keep up the good work :)

  50. I like your blog.

  51. I always was concerned in this subject and stock still am, thanks for posting .

  52. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned :)

  53. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned :)

  54. Hello. And Bye.

  55. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  56. Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

  57. Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

  58. Superb publish. I’m staying longer the next time I go to your web site. patio store

  59. cancel this show, please cancel this show

  60. Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

  61. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

  62. A buffoon may bang country over a peacock but instead alter the slug

  63. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)