Remember last week's ungrammatical smooch that the L.A. Times gave Harvey Weinstein in the form of a free full-page ad, the same day that the Weinstein Co. paid for ads in other papers? Today in Variety, Jonathan Bing writes that the Times' donation "had enormous upside for the Weinstein Co., serving as an advance ad for next month's American Film Market, where the Weinsteins are expected to hawk foreign rights to a number of projects. It also helped enhance the company's profile at a pivotal moment, as it negotiates the last of its deals with financial partners." In return, Bing says, Weinstein tells the columnist that he'll remember the LAT: "All it did was endear the L.A. Times to me. I'm going to remember them, and whatever the cost of that one ad is, they'll probably get it back 50 times over." Times spokeswoman Martha Goldstein also had a favorable spin for Bing, saying "It's very simple. We've had a strong relationship with the entertainment industry and the ad department decided to congratulate a new movie company." Others, however, are not so approving.
But the ad also crossed a line most newspaper advertisers would rather not transgress, subverting the usual relationship between ad buyer and seller, and thereby jeopardizing the value of the surrounding real estate. And it raised hackles among other advertisers. "It's in bad taste," one studio marketer told me. "They have an obligation to support all their advertisers. What are they going to do for me?"
The free ad's origin is somewhat embarrassing for the Times. It only came about, Bing reports, because Weinstein didn't buy a lucrative ad announcing his company in the LAT as he had in the New York Times and Variety. So the financially squeezed Times gave it to him. Variety also had a story on this on Monday. (Links via Romenesko)