USA Today Will Make Back to the Future II’s Fictional News a Reality (Sort Of)

Fake cover will wrap real newspaper

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Joining brands like Pepsi, Toyota and Nike, USA Today is the latest brand prominently featured in Back to the Future II to make a fictionalized product from the movie a reality. On Thursday, USA Today's real paper will be wrapped in a fake cover—the one depicted in the 1989 film. 

The newspaper cover played an important role in the film: Doc Brown goes into the future and learns from the paper that Marty McFly's future son, Marty Jr., will be jailed on Oct. 22. When—spoiler alert—they go back to Oct. 21 and change the course of future events, the fictional Oct. 22 cover is shown again, this time saying Marty Jr. won't be going to jail. 

"This movie had some great product placement, so we knew this was a great chance to have some fun with branded content," said Matt Urbanos, vp of brand and creative strategy at Gannett, adding, "This was a moment that was 30 years in the making, and there was no way we were going to let it pass by. We also felt this was the perfect opportunity to show brands how we can effectively partner with them across all our platforms."

An editorial from Bob Gale, co-writer and co-producer of the film, is also part of the USA Today deal. 

"Only the top half of the cover was remade to be featured in the movie," said Urbanos. "The bottom half of the paper was never featured in the movie and was just old content that happened to be left over from an old version of USA Today. We worked with Universal and Bob Gale to update the bottom half and add content that was relevant and cohesive as our way to finish the story and punctuate this moment." 

USA Today is promoting the Back to the Future wrap cover with a full social campaign on Wednesday and Thursday. The company is changing its logos in digital and print to match the logos from the movie. The inside of the wrap cover features an ad for Jaws 19, which was also featured in Back to the Future II. 

Here's a look at the wrap cover:

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.