New York Times Journalists Take Center Stage in Latest Ads From 'The Truth Is Hard' Campaign

New Spots From Droga5 Highlight the Efforts of Grey Lady Photojournalists

Published On
Apr 21, 2017

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The New York Times builds on its tagline that "The Truth Is Hard" in a new pair of ads created out of Droga5 New York and directed by acclaimed Director Darren Aronofksy. The spots follow the debut of the Times' first-ever Oscars spot, part of its first brand campaign in a decade and highlight members of the Grey Lady team, staff photographer Tyler Hicks and contributing photojournalist Bryan Denton.

While the first spot leveraged simple typography and audio to illustrate the media's often noisy, confusing info dump that makes the truth difficult for viewers to discern, the new ads clearly spell out the efforts that times journalists make to help readers dig out that truth.

One spot cuts together Hicks' photographs of Syrian refugees reaching the shores of Lesbos, Greece, while his voiceover reveals the observations and emotions he felt while capturing their arrival. Another ad (above) depicts the life-threatening circumstances under which Denton had captured images of ISIS in Mosul, Iraq -- including that of a suicide vehicle explosion, yet his v.o. reveals his desire to have known the driver's motivations. "I wish I could have talked to him to understand who he was," he says.

Released today, the ads will run on national broadcast ad online through next week, along with accompanying print versions running in the Times. Two commercials to follow will highlight the work of contributor Daniel Berehulak, who documented Ebola in West Africa and Andes Bureau Chief Nicholas Casey and contributing photographer Meridith Kohut, who observed the effects of economic hard times Venezuela.

Aronofsky, the acclaimed director with credits such as "Black Swan," "The Wrestler" and "Requiem for a Dream," (and who also directed this recent ad for Sierra Club) brings a subtle but powerful hand to the spots, letting the photographs and journalists' voices do a lot of the heavy-lifting. But clever edits and touches of sound design help to create moments of tension and hope. "Photojournalists risk their safety, their minds and often their lives in order to capture what is really happening in the most tumultuous parts of the world," Aronofsky said in a statement. "They rush face first into war, disease and human plight to capture the horrors that are unfolding on and to our planet It was an honor to speak with them about their methods and some of their toughest assignments. I hope the commercials pay tribute to the important work these men and women have done and continue to do."

The campaign is part of the Times' efforts to become a consumer subscription-first business and hinges on research in which the Times found that viewers "don't always understand what it takes to do quality original reporting, but when they do they are more interested in supporting," The New York Times Senior VP-Head of Brand David Rubin told Ad Age and Creativity in February.

The Times hasn't been the only publication putting its own staffers on stage. In March, The Wall Street Journal debuted "The Face of Real News," a campaign profiling its own reporters and the often extreme lengths they'll go to get to their stories.