Last Friday, the Los Angeles Times featured a faux-cover with a HUGE picture of Johnny Depp as the Madhatter in promotion of the opening of Alice in Wonderland. If this isn’t advertising, I don’t know what is. To take out a full-color ad creating a cover wrap for the newspaper is big-doings for Disney, who must have some faith that the print media will reach audiences.

We can all admit that LA is a world of its own. What we think of as a normal size billboard is barely comparable to the city’s gargantuan displays that border its roads.

With that in mind, this type of advertising would probably only happen in The City of Angels.

Nevertheless, Disney is relying on the old school newspaper as one of its many advertising avenues for what proved to be an absolute hit. Alice in Wonderland became the best March release in history and biggest 3D movie ever, grossing $116.3 million during opening weekend!

It’s doubtful that Disney’s advertisement in the LA Times alone made the movie move pass Avatar in its opening weekend, but it is also doubtful that Disney would spend somewhere in the range of $700,000 on something that didn’t specifically go toward its bottom line.

Yes, newspapers are suffering throughout the United States and around the world. But, the Alice in Wonderland advertisement shows that there is still a pulse for the newspaper industry. While the main objective of this ad was to entice people to go see the movie, it may have also helped sell newspapers, which ads rarely do. It would not be surprising if little Susie saw the front cover, begged her mother to buy it for her so she could hang it on her wall and cherish it (or have nightmares) for years to come. There are plenty of people that love the feel of newspaper, and yes, even that the ink gets all over your hands – although I can’t relate to that one!

The U.S. newspaper industry lost $7.5 billion in advertising revenues during 2008 according to the .

Historically, newspapers thrived on their advertising revenues. Without them, the papers can’t exist, at least not in the form they do today.

The Los Angeles Times took a concept developed on the web and moved it to print, something that is typically done in the opposite direction. The LA Times differentiated itself with this innovative ad and Disney debuted a new type of advertising while launching what will prove to be one of the biggest movies of the year.

While this is an amazing effort by the LA Times in offering innovative advertising options, the newspaper industry is expected to continue to decline.

Even more reason to buy them while you can! Way to go LA Times and Disney – extending the life of the newspaper industry one movie advertisement at a time!

Disclaimer: Yes, I am the print media analyst at gap intelligence :)