The New York Times is continuing to build upon the momentum of its “Truth is Hard” campaign with a new video advertisement designed for broadcast television, print and digital media in honor of International Women’s Day.
The video — which will air across The New York Times platforms, as well as in paid media spots on the major morning and evening network news shows starting Thursday — includes text of the opening lines from a smattering of recent stories related to international women’s rights. The excerpts come directly from pieces written by Times reporters around the world, with datelines ranging from Nigeria and Afghanistan to Lansing, Michigan.
Like the ads that came before it, “The Truth Has a Voice” maintains the simple, aesthetic black text juxtaposed against a white background, ending with imagery of an article about women running for public office as seen from a mobile phone. It also complements an ad that aired during the Golden Globes in January, which made a pointed statement about the role of The New York Times in accelerating national discussion around sexual assault and harassment following its explosive exposé of Harvey Weinstein. Since the Times broke the story in October, there has been a floodgate of victims speaking out against abusers in an array of industries.
The commercial is the creative brainchild of advertising agency Droga5, which the Times maintained a relationship with after the firing of chief creative officer Ted Royer in February for alleged workplace misconduct. While specifics around his termination have not been released, the company said the decision was made as part of a commitment to “maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees.” (According to a spokesperson for the Times, the International Women’s Day commercial was led by Tim Gordon, executive creative director at Droga5.)
The campaign first started during last year’s Academy Awards in response to an increasingly tense political climate and a barrage of insults against the media industry by President Donald Trump. The New York Times has since aired several other ads focused on exposing truths, including an ad that aired during the Super Bowl spotlighting the publication’s efforts around the impact of football on brain damage and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
“We really want the journalism to be the hero and to be the story at the center of the advertisements and the video,” said Amy Weisenbach, vp of brand marketing at the New York Times. “We tried to highlight different parts of the stories — for the CTE ad, for example, we used a headline in a storytelling kind of way. Now we’re using the ledes of stories, which we thought was a really nice way to tell the richness of this, but also a nice nod to our journalists who take the time to do these pieces that are a differentiator for us.”
A print advertisement that ran in Thursday’s print version of The New York Times.
While Weisenbach said there is no concrete data to show that the advertising campaign has translated directly to an increase in subscriptions, The New York Times has seen a significant lift in print and digital memberships. In early February, it reported that it added 157,000 digital subscriptions in the fourth quarter of last year and that revenue surpassed $1 billion in 2017, comprising 60 percent of total revenue at The New York Times.
“We know from our consumer research that not enough people understand what it takes to do quality original reporting and once they do, they’re more likely to pay for it,” Weisenbach said. “We have 3.5 million subscriptions, and we have to help our readers understand why it’s worth it.”
As part of the latest ad, the Times is also launching a series called “Overlooked,” which will featured posthumous obituaries for notable women that the publication failed to honor in the past as part of its effort to better hold itself accountable. “The campaign is about shining a light on our journalism that holds power to account,” Weisenbach said.