Few advertising campaigns ever win a Cannes Lions award — the industry’s most prestigious honor — let alone two Grand Prix awards.
But The New York Times’ “The Truth is Worth It” campaign did just that when it received the Film Craft and Film awards at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The Droga5 team that developed the campaign included two Virginia Commonwealth University alumni, Tim Gordon and Nick Maschmeyer.
“The campaign is centered around the idea of truth and the idea of establishing The New York Times as one of the preeminent, if not the preeminent, destination for the best journalism,” said Gordon, who earned his copywriting degree from VCU in 2008 and was executive creative director on the award-winning campaign. “Everything [the NYT reporters] do is in service of providing more clarity and understanding of the world. And they do that through a dedication to truth.
“We needed to come up with a campaign that convinced and encouraged and reminded people why original journalism is worth paying for.”
The creatives wanted the campaign to show the rigor, perseverance and dedication that goes into reporting important and impactful stories. They used footage of journalists as they investigated stories about everything from immigration and child detention at the border to climate change and taxes.
The integrated campaign, which aired everywhere from TV to social media, aimed to change the public’s perception about the role of a free press and why quality journalism matters.
Both campaigns resonated because they were informative but emotional at the same time, Gordon said. “The Truth is Worth It” encompassed many of the key topics of Cannes Lions 2019, including impact of brands, transformational storytelling and trust and ethics.
“Since its inception, the Cannes Lions Festival has been the premier awards show for creativity,” said R. Vann Graves, executive director of the VCU Brandcenter. “It’s amazing to witness our Brandcenter alumni continue to reach the top of the industry through their hard work and creativity. Tim Gordon and Nick Maschmeyer are another fantastic example of how our work impacts what’s happening in the world.”
Beyond the record subscription growth, the success of the campaign encompasses the idea of truth taking hold in culture, Gordon said.
“People are buying T-shirts with The New York Times logo on it and ‘Truth’ displayed across their chest and wearing it as a badge of honor,” he said. “That, in many ways, is even more exciting because we realize that we're doing something that is actually resonating with people.”
Watch the campaigns below: