The New York Times is running its first television ad in seven years during the Oscars Sunday night. The subject? The truth.
The ad begins with voices saying, “The truth is our nation is more divided than ever,” with those words spelled out against a white backdrop. The phrase then changes to “The truth is alternative facts are lies.” The ad repeats different versions of the “The truth is…” as the voices speed up and get louder. It ends with: “The truth is hard” and “The truth is more important now than ever.”
The ad’s mission is to tap into “national dialogue going on right now about facts and the truth” and what that means in today’s world, according to New York Times branding exec David Rubin.
“The idea is to be a part of that discussion about what does it mean to find the truth,” he said. “What does that mean in a world of ‘fake news’? And what is the role of journalism and journalists in that process and what is the role of reader in supporting that journalism?”
The black and white 30 second ad is minimalist, yet it feels overwhelming.
“We think it’s a great metaphor for how hard it is on a regular basis to understand the truth,” he said. “That leads into the role that we think journalism can play in helping you cut through that clutter and make your own sense of what’s going on in the world.”
Rubin added that The Times chose the Annual Academy Awards for its impact and its timing.
“We wanted a high profile media moment,” he said. “This felt like a great moment for people to respond and react to the spot.”
The TV campaign will appear elsewhere on television. Print versions of the ads will also run on billboards in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, online and in The Times itself this weekend.
The 89th Annual Academy Awards airs Sunday night on ABC.