Each year on the awards circuit, a few brands, agencies and campaigns rise to the top. These are the campaigns that advertising people love to talk about, deconstruct and admire. Last year, Droga5’s “The Truth Is Worth It” was among the most awarded and talked about. It also broke the mold of what news advertising could be, leaning into the rigor and ambition of seeking the truth.
Today, the publisher and agency continue the campaign, “The Truth Is Essential,” with a new ad. Clocking in at just under two-and-a-half minutes, the spot is a slight departure from the previous award-winning ads. Instead of honing in on one story, Droga5 used elements from over 100 different pieces of content that appeared in the Times to illustrate the breadth and depth of its journalism.
Snippets are edited to jazz artist Makaya McCraven’s song Requests. What makes the video interesting is that the music goes in several different directions, with images, words and computer keyboard sound effects keeping time. On the one hand, it can feel cacophonous, yet the very tight production craft makes it seamless.
“[The work] started with a script, and the ambition was to tell a poem through New York Times journalism,” said Toby Treyer-Evans, group creative director at Droga5. “We didn’t quite know how exactly we were going to do it, but we treated it more like a musical piece. We wanted people to hear the rhythmic structure and cadence of the poem. We loved the idea of using jazz because it was able to span every corner of life with highs and lows, happy or sad. [The song] has a backbone that drove the piece, and gave it purpose that reflected back the brand.”
Themes running through the ad include the pandemic and how people have been coping, politics, the upcoming presidential election and global issues. Instead of relying only on hard news, other New York Times content like podcasts, opinion columns, cooking and technology were weaved in throughout.
“We now have a newsroom of over 1,700 and reported from 159 countries in 2019,” said Amy Weisenbach, svp of marketing at The New York Times. “And it’s exciting to bring more of that to bear in one campaign because we’ve often focused on one narrative.”
Weisenbach noted that the campaign has helped raise awareness of The New York Times’ journalism and improved its brand health. While the brand has invested in other areas to build subscriptions, she said the work from Droga5 has helped contribute to its best quarter ever, adding close to 670,000 net new subscribers. At present, The New York Times has 6.5 million combined subscribers in print and digital.
Treyer-Evans, a U.K. native who led the project with fellow group creative director Laurie Howell, noted that even though the anchor film is long, it is modular and can be split into five parts and used as different versions in the campaign.
In looking at the evolution of the campaign, Howell believes that the nature of journalism can be useful in ensuring that future ads can be relevant and in keeping with what’s happening around the world.
“We’re coming into a very important year with the election, and that will continue to push the work,” he said. “Beyond that, we will move with culture and find new ways to talk about it.”
“There’s a clear thread between all of the work, but the briefs have been different,” added Weisenbach. “I think it speaks to the power of the platform that Droga5 created, to be responsive to different moments. Journalism is always changing, and that’s what helps keep it feeling fresh.”