Cannes Lions

NYT - Story Portrait

DROGA5, PART OF ACCENTURE SONG, New York / THE NEW YORK TIMES / 2023

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Case Film

Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

In tandem with the launch of our Independence campaign featuring Times subscriber Questlove, we wanted to take the campaign even further by making something every subscriber could see themselves in. It was a way for subscribers to participate in the campaign and visualize their reading habits. Our goal was to deepen affinity by engaging subscribers in a meaningful way meant to surprise and delight.

Idea

The heart of this campaign was inspired by the stories of the subscribers it spotlighted. After speaking with dozens of readers about how—and why—they interact with The Times, we learned how deeply they value their independence, and how our journalism feeds that independence, which helps them better understand themselves and the world around them.

This campaign celebrated that desire for independence, highlighting how The Times can enrich every life in different ways. Each extension painted a unique portrait of a subscriber through headlines of journalism they've read.

To turn this into something that every subscriber could participate in, we developed Story Portrait: a first-of-its-kind digital experience that allowed subscribers to build their own personalized headline “portrait” that allowed them to see themselves through the journalism they’ve read. The headlines perfectly fit the canvas, filling the frame with a color-coded snapshot of a subscriber's relationship with New York Times journalism.

Strategy

We worked with the New York Times audience team to create an algorithm that could process data from millions of subscribers to create an image. It simulated 600 iterations of headlines in one second, choosing the most optimal combination for the digital canvas. This specific data set allowed every single subscriber to create and share a unique portrait that showed who they are through what they read.

Execution

Our “Independent Journalism for an Independent Life” campaign showed that what you read inspires who you are. The campaign told the stories of our subscribers, celebrating the valuable role The Times plays in their lives.

To turn this campaign into something every subscriber could experience, we created “Story Portrait"—a first-of-its-kind interactive experience that tapped into users’ reading history, painting a portrait of who they are—and how they think—through the lens of New York Times journalism.

We developed an algorithm that strung together headlines in a connected thread, filling the screen with a color-coded snapshot of a subscriber's relationship with New York Times journalism. It automatically generated beautiful portraits from thousands of headlines, for millions of subscribers—in seconds. Our palette was inspired by different sections of The Times—as headlines generated on-screen, colors of their most-read sections blended into a unique and shareable portrait. It became our most engaging interactive brand website yet.

Outcome

This first-of-its-kind digital experience allowed subscribers to build their own personalized, headline “portrait” using New York Times journalism they read the most.

Qualified subscribers got to create and share a uniquely art directed portrait based on an algorithm that reflected who they are, through what they read.

It was our most engaging interactive brand website in history with a click-through rate over 3X higher than our average for any landing page.

As a whole, the campaign and Story Portrait experience increased brand perceptions of breadth and relevance, and drove greater earned reach than any prior brand campaign.

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