That night the New York Times ‘he said, she said’ ad aired on the Golden Globes. Let’s talk about it.

Holly: Oprah. I know. But last night’s Golden Globes’ viewers also had a front row seat to the premiere of the latest entry in the New York Times’ “Truth is Hard” advertising campaign, which kicked off during last year’s Oscars. The spare little black dress of an ad carries an obvious #MeToo message, although Times management says the intention is to spotlight “the cultural role our journalism has played in it.” Read more about the philosophy and branding plan in this piece from Ad Age.

From a design perspective, it had me from its text-only composition, and I’ll be using it in class as an example of “less is more” excellence.

Consumers, however, gave it mixed reviews — as aggregated in this HuffPo story.

As for its branding and conceptual merit, we bow to OU journalism professors and advertising scholars Dr. Suzy Lee and Dr. Laura McGowan Fry for their insights.

Laura:

Dr. Laura McGowan Fry

This timely topic is clearly reflective if the tone of this year’s Golden Globes: (1) women wore black in support of #MeToo (2) there was a good amount of publicity about how Seth Myers would/would not address #MeToo and the Weinstein scandal. He did!

The New York Times ad demonstrated the publication’s commitment to monitoring and reporting on topics of interest to the paper’s readership.

Risk: I do question whether viewers recognized this as an ad for New York Times reporting rather than the New York Times calling attention to the sexual harassment issues that have plagued the entertainment industry in 2017.

Creative Execution: The creative is strong. Black and white now has an element of sophistication – stressing the seriousness of New York Times coverage of serious stories and the black and white approach executed by The New York Times looks like a print story – which may very well add credibility associated with print journalism.

Risk: The spot was short. Will viewers understand why The New York Times has purchased the spot?

Suzy:

Dr. Suzy Lee

Laura mentioned some risks of The New York Times ad. Here are a few points on the positive impact.

Content: The link between “the truth is hard” and the sexual harassment issues was appropriate. Given the main audience of the Golden Globes – possibly who are sensitive to new movies, trends, and news –  the topic of sexual harassment (e.g., Harvey Weinstein) can effectively stir up the public’s interest and can further earn media exposure and be discussed in social media.

The use of basic black type against a white background represents who the advertiser is – The New York Times. This was a very simple and clear way of revealing who the advertiser is.

Contact: Advertisers have to find the right contact points to actually INFLUENCE the audience. We are bombarded with so many advertising messages, creativity in an ad may not be enough to catch the public’s attention. The appearance of the brand on a Hollywood stage with a Golden Globes could definitely create an “Aha” moment.

You can view the ad here and let us know what you think.

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