New York Times “Truth Is Hard” campaign touts journalism, fights claims of fake news

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, USA


The New York Times’ “Truth Is Hard” multi-media campaign, which touted the impact of the news media company’s journalism amid a rising tide of fake news and misinformation — won the coveted INMA Global Media Awards “Best in Show,” joining 33 companies taking home top prizes in growing brand, audience, and revenue.

The goals for the campaign were to make it clear that The New York Times is a trusted source for independent, is deeply reported journalism, and to drive subscriptions, according to the Global Media Awards entry information.

“In a world of fake news and misinformation, we wanted to reinforce The New York Times was going to stand for the truth,” the INMA Global Media Awards entry stated. “We wanted to cut through with an elegant reminder that the truth and independent journalism are more important now than ever. We also wanted to communicate that The New York Times was a trusted source in a time when the concept of truth is up for debate.”

The New York Times takes the "fake news" phenomenon head on.
The New York Times takes the "fake news" phenomenon head on.

The campaign aimed to champion what makes The New York Times so unique: “the huge amount of resources we put into providing readers independent and reliable journalism, whether those are time, money, people or on-the-ground reporters in more than 150 countries around the world.”

Through an impact-driven media strategy, staff used PR, earned media, digital, social and print, with a full page wrap of the NYT Saturday edition, the most highly circulated of the week. The Times also ran a bespoke version of the spot during the Oscars, one of the biggest and most politically charged nights in the cultural calendar, and used Twitter to boost the promotional video and fuel the conversation.  

“To ensure we translated impact into action, we complemented our awareness-driving activity with conversion-driving banners and targeted social assets encouraging people to subscribe.”

The "Truth Is Hard" campaign garnered generated US$7 million in earned-media value.
The "Truth Is Hard" campaign garnered generated US$7 million in earned-media value.

Some campaign results include:

  • 20 million views across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

  • 648 articles and TV segments, generating 753 million impressions and over US$7 million in earned-media value.

  • Most talked about and searched for brand during the Oscars.

  • Featured as an official Twitter moment.

  • Readers displayed the campaign print ads as a stamp of pride at protests and rallies, shared them on social media and framed them in their homes.

  • NYT officially entered the zeitgeist when the campaign’s construct became a canvas for high-profile Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert parodies.

  • The subscriber landing page hit the campaign goal in the first four days.

  • Significantly lifted the conversion rates on subscription-driving banners, generating a 124% uplift with a notable spike of 561% at one point in the campaign.

  • Increased NYT subscriber base by 100% versus the previous six weeks after being live just 24 hours.

  • February 2018 became the single biggest month for NYT subscriptions since the paywall introduction.

Congratulations to The New York Times on this groundbreaking campaign!

About Dawn McMullan

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