Case Study: The Truth is Worth It

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Even with nearly 170 years of heritage, The New York Times wasn’t immune to the pressures the internet has put on news media. So it turned to one of the world’s most awarded creative agencies to communicate that its promise that the truth is worth it.



Client: New York Times

Agency: Droga 5

Medium Featured On Video: INTERACTIVE/ONLINE,TV

Language: English

In 2019, the global news media business was in flux. Users had become used to free news, and legacy publishers were struggling to cover the costs of producing the quality content that their reputations were built on. Against this backdrop, The New York Times (NYT) was operating a paid subscription service. They wanted people to understand the value of quality, paid-for journalism, over free news.

The project fell to Creative Directors Toby Treyer-Evans and Laurie Howell at Droga5. They explain it as follows: “The brief was all about creating a way to show why people should support and pay for good quality journalism in the times we live in.”

Solution: The Truth is Worth It

So the team at Droga5 set about showing everything it takes to bring home an NYT story for the world to read. “People assume The New York Times is written from the safety of high-rise towers in New York,” Treyer-Evans and Howell explain, “but we wanted to show the reality—the risk, the guts, the perseverance and the courage it takes to find the story. We wanted to shed light on the rigor behind the reporting, and the journeys are taken to write the stories, all in the pursuit of the truth.”

And so the team landed on the line – The Truth Is Worth it. The concept spoke to both the transaction value of a subscription, as well as the lengths the paper and its journalists go to report on stories.

Bringing to life the core creative concept would be a series of tv commercials featuring a continuously rewriting headline. The film advertising narrative would lead viewers through the journalist’s journey to tell their story. “We put the viewer in the shoes of the journalist in the most visceral way possible,” describes Treyer-Evans and Howell.



In 24 hours, the “Truth is Hard” ad won more subscribers for The Times than the paper had gained in the preceding six weeks. 


The first quarter of 2017, when the ads debuted, was The Times’ best quarter ever for subscription growth.


The “Truth Is Hard” campaign earned 5.12 billion impressions and $16.8 million in media value. 

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