In 2013, Warner Bros. released the film “Gangster Squad,” a movie that was based in part on a series of Sunday Los Angeles Times’ articles originally published in 2008. The movie, like the series, chronicled the story of the Los Angeles Police Department’s attempts to keep the city safe from gang members in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Staff recognised that the film’s release offered a unique opportunity to promote the film through a combination of innovative print + and digital units, using some of its exclusive archive of stories chronicling Los Angeles’ gang-related history.

The Los Angeles Times worked with Warner Bros. to generate interest in the big-screen version of “Gangster Squad” by tapping into the original news reports. It also used its complete multi-media retelling of some of the stories that helped inspire the film.

Elements of the campaign included:

  • High-impact digital placements on latimes.com, including a homepage takeover and an ad unit in the site navigation bar. Large rich media pushdown units and skyscrapers were deployed to showcase the movie trailer in the ad environment, as well as clickable page skins featuring the movie’s cast.
  • 100% SOV on the sub-section of latimes.com that is home to the original 2008 articles and multi-media galleries. The editorial content was surrounded by “Gangster Squad” branding and rich media units, creating a one-of-a-kind integration between the film advertising and editorial source material.
  • A four-page broadsheet wrap in the main news section published in the Sunday Times, featuring Los Angeles Times archival content and photos detailing the adventures of the real-life “Gangster Squad.” The topper was headlined “Extra! Tales From The Gangster Squad,” with character art and movie messaging woven throughout the pages.
  • “Gangster Squad” key art featured on news racks throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area, promoting both the film and single-copy sales on the date the cover wrap was published.

The results of the campaign exceeded expectations, and the partnership showed the value of content. By providing Los Angeles residents with timely, accurate, and detailed information about the “Gangster Squad,” the news media company offered a dynamic way to engage with the movie.

Warner Bros. promoted this content via its Facebook page and other social media venues, allowing moviegoers to learn more about the real story. This deep history increased interest in the upcoming film while at the same time increasing exposure for the Los Angeles Times.