Unprotected: Behind the Scenes with the AJC's Investigative Reporters
2020 Finalist

Unprotected: Behind the Scenes with the AJC's Investigative Reporters

Cox Enterprises

Atlanta, United States

Category Video

Overview of this campaign

In 2019, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution launched a major brand awareness campaign by taking readers behind the scenes of a groundbreaking and important investigation into Georgia’s booming senior care industry and its failure to protect senior citizens. What our reporters uncovered was shocking: systemic issues of neglect and abuse, and a lack of regulatory oversight by the state. Families had no way of knowing what was really going on inside the state’s 400 assisted living and large personal care homes. It was critical that we bring as much attention to the AJC’s reporting as possible.

Marketing learned about the investigation months before it published, thanks to our close collaboration with the newsroom. We saw the remarkable brand marketing opportunity to highlight specifically how our journalism serves communities. We also knew the topic – taking care of our aging loved ones and keeping them safe – would resonate widely with our audience.

With newsroom cooperation and advanced planning with the marketing team, we produced a campaign that took readers inside our investigation – to give them an unprecedented and transparent look at our reporting process. 

Campaign inspiration came from documentary films and movie trailers.  This approach enabled us to take a bold, powerful and visual approach in demonstrating the important and hard work done by our journalists to inform and empower our community.  We committed to the principle that journalists would not be scripted like actors. Instead, we interviewed journalists and used their words and their passion to tell a very compelling story of brand value.   Post-campaign research and other measures prove the campaign delivered the brand perceptions and engagement we were seeking.

Our videos were placed on marketing channels, including television, digital (native, display and preroll), social media, within subscriber newsletters, throughout our newspaper website and shown at community presentations. The campaign also included radio, outdoor billboards and print ads.   


Results for this campaign

The “Unprotected” marketing campaign achieved its objectives and delivered impressive results.

Positive Brand Perceptions


- We conducted research using a proprietary video tool called the “Perceptual Analyzer.” Subscribers and nonsubscribers watched the campaign videos and reacted in real time so we could measure engagement across the entire length of each video. We then asked a series of questions. Both videos received extraordinarily high scores across all audience segments and demographics. Perceptual measures and verbatim comments universally applauded the importance and value of the AJC’s investigation, and a reason to read and subscribe. The longer version (4:50) kept viewer interest until the very end – there was no drop off in engagement despite its length. Full research results are attached.

- We measured video views within our digital advertising channels and saw exceptionally high engagement. Close to 50% of all video played to completion – far above industry averages. The videos also had a very high click through rate of .56%.

- Comments within social platforms also were universally positive and applauded the AJC’s reporting, the dedication of its journalists and the quality of the video production. Social sentiment (likes, shares, etc.) was also very high.

Widespread Market Awareness


- The AJC marketed the investigation across all channels, reaching 100% of current subscribers – print, email, digital display and social.

- The broadcast buy reached 35.6% of adults 35-64 if the market with a 4.5x frequency.

-The billboards, placed in key geographic areas, delivered 34,127,951 impressions

- Native advertising/reach extension delivered 21,972,673 impressions

- Paid social delivered 2,194,652 impressions

Unprecedented collaboration


- The newsroom packaged our marketing videos as a related content pieces throughout the digital presentation of the investigation on AJC.com and within newsletters.

Based on positive results, our brand marketing strategy will continue to showcase the transparency of our news reporting process and promote specific local investigations. We believe this approach effectively promotes the essential local journalism that only we can do and can do only with subscriber support.


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