Cannes Lions

The Truth Is Worth It

DROGA5, New York / THE NEW YORK TIMES / 2019


1 Grand Prix
3 Gold
1 Bronze
3 Shortlisted
Presentation Image






In a time when journalism is expected to be free, The New York Times relies on a pay model. Millions visit every month, but only a fraction are subscribers. We wanted to build the behavior of paying for journalism, by showing our target audience, the “curious reader”, that journalism needs support. The aim of the campaign was to shift key brand perceptions previously identified as impacting someone’s likelihood to subscribe.


These films make up a campaign that looks to shed light on the rigor behind the journalism and why it's all worth it. It’s a piece of work about pursuing the truth wherever it may lead and bringing that truth back in word form for the world to read. The campaign uses a single creative approach to show that the truth is worth it across different, nonfiction films covering a breadth of issues. Each film takes on a different subject and emotional thread: rigor, resolve, perseverance and courage. The films come together to create a campaign that shows the great lengths to which NYT journalists will go to get to the truth.


The biggest threat to a free press is the expectation that it comes free. The internet has changed how we value journalism. And though the free press is guaranteed by the constitution, it doesn’t come free, and too many take it for granted. There is a disconnect between the text we read and understanding what it takes to publish it.

The truth is, we invest in our journalism. We spend more money, time, and resources to publish the highest quality journalism than anyone else. We do this on behalf of our readers and for society at large.

While readers value our journalism, they’ve simply never considered paying for it. We needed to change a generation of ingrained behavior by proving to our audience, the “curious reader,” that we need their support to do what we do. The truth doesn’t just show itself. It has to be found.


The campaign continues to run across multiple media channels, in broadcast, digital and social, targeted to our audience of the “curious readers” - consumers who seek out the news and are interested in the world around them.

The first live date was October 29, 2018, but we continue to roll out and run these films around contextual media opportunities to inject ourselves into the cultural conversation and reinforce the importance of journalism in these times. For example, we ran “Immigration” during the State of the Union Speech on CNN and ABC, as well as during Trump’s statement on the border wall situation and his declaration of a state of emergency. We continually deploy “Taxes” digitally in answer to any conversation spikes around “fake news” or defamatory comments on the press from Trump.

To date we’ve amassed over 1B impressions across paid, owned, and earned channels.


We set out to shift perception against key business-driving attributes and out-performed all KPIs, delivering significant lift against the statements that the NYT “pursues the truth relentlessly,” “has a positive impact on the world,” and “produces journalism that affects change.”

Perhaps even more critically, we saw significant lift in perception that NYT “is worth paying for,” stated purchase intent, and increase in subscriptions attributed to the campaign, signaling that the campaign effectively worked to cement the notion that journalism is worth paying for.

In addition, we exceeded our traffic-driving goals, delivering nearly a million views of content on our landing page, a single-campaign record for the NYT.

These results not only suggest a fundamental shift in the idea of paying for quality independent journalism, it also ensures that The Times can continue its mission to help people understand the world more deeply.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

0 Awards




(opens in a new tab)