New, Nail-Biting NYT Ads Tell the Harrowing Details of the Staff’s International Investigations

Droga5 campaign continues with stories of ethnic cleansing and surveillance

One of The New York Times' new ads from Droga5 details its investigation into the Mexican government's illicit surveillance of journalists. Droga5
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The military-run government of Myanmar is one of the most merciless regimes on Earth, but that didn’t stop a New York Times reporter from giving her official minders the slip when investigating reports of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya people.

In one of two new ads in agency Droga5’s ongoing campaign, we see how Myanmar attempted to keep The New York Times from learning the heartbreaking details of a violent relocation effort against the Asian nation’s ethnic minority. Stymied by an official tour, journalist Hannah Beech faked illness and then worked her way into a Rohingya village, where details still remained elusive due to widespread fear of the government.

The second new longform ad outlines a more personal story: the tale of how Mexican government officials used spyware to eavesdrop on journalists.

Assembling such detail-rich ads is obviously an intense process for the Droga5 team. We caught up with the work’s lead creatives, Laurie Howell and Toby-Treyer Evans, to learn more about how it all comes together.

Adweek: How does your team specifically work on a campaign like this? It’s very different from the usual scripted approach to advertising.
Toby Treyer-Evans, creative director, Droga5: We work with The New York Times, sifting through hundreds of recent, relevant articles to find those that most directly speak to the rigor, expertise and persistence that makes New York Times journalism worth paying for.

After identifying the most compelling and impactful reporting, we spend time with the journalists: interviewing them, building timelines and carefully recording the way the stories developed. We then write scripts, fact-check, write again and collect assets. From there, we spend almost the entire time in the edit rejiggering and gathering more assets right up until we finalize the

What are some of the unique challenges you come across while working on these kinds of mini-documentaries/ films?
Laurie Howell, creative director, Droga5: It was a challenge telling months and months—sometimes years—of reporting
on one story in under 2 minutes. It meant we had to be really reductive and boil down the writing while still keeping the points of impact and, in a very short time, tell the story of what the journalists went through. We had to do all of this while still
upholding the journalistic standards of The New York Times and, of course, most importantly, the truth.

As for the nature of the scripts themselves, we wanted to portray a single stream of consciousness from the point of view of the journalist, connecting every word as if writing and rewriting headlines as the journalist’s journey unfolded.

Here’s a look back at some previous ads in the series:


Client: The New York Times
Campaign: The Truth Is Worth It
Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Neil Heymann
Executive Creative Director: Tim Gordon
Creative Director: Laurie Howell
Creative Director: Toby Treyer-Evans
Copywriter: Chase Kimball
Junior Copywriter: Ben Brown
Junior Art Director: Jackie Moran
Design Director: Nate Moore
Designer: Eli Hochberg
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Associate Director of Film Production: Ruben Mercadal
Senior Producer, Film: Topher Cochrane
Senior Producer, Film: Brandon Chen
Associate Producer, Film: Holly Schussler
Music Supervisor: Mike Ladman
Director of Business Affairs: Jocelyn Howard
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Whitney Vose
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Head of Strategy: Harry Román-Torres
Strategy Director: Nick Maschmeyer
Head of Communications Strategy: Dean Challis
Group Communications Strategy Director: Samantha Deevy
Senior Communications Strategist: Jay Potash
Data Strategy Director: Ryan Miller
Group Account Director: Courtney Russell
Account Director: Ola Abayomi
Account Manager: Tehjal Suri
Senior Project Manager: Caroline Kosse
Junior Project Manager: Amanda Cohen
Legal: Sarah Fox

Client New York Times
Meredith Kopit Levien: EVP & Chief Operating Officer
David Rubin: SVP, Head of Brand
Amy Weisenbach: VP, Brand Marketing
Iain Newton: Brand Strategy Consultant
Sabena Gupta: Director, Brand Strategy
Laura Forde: Executive Creative Director, Brand Marketing
Brenda Natoli: Director, Head of Voice
Brenna King Schleifer: Brand & Media Insights Director
Janis Huang: Executive Director, Marketing & Media Strategy
Peter Lauer: Senior Manager, Media Strategy
Blair Ecton: Senior Project Manager

Production Company: Furlined
Directors: Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin
President: Diane McArter
Executive Producer/Director of Development: Ben Davies
Executive Producer: David Thorne

Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Jim Helton
Assistant Editors: Chris Rizzo, Sophie Solomon, Alyce Muhammed
Executive Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Head of Production: Penny Ensley
Producer: Lareysa Smith

Postproduction: Significant Others
Producers: Alek Rost, Kyra Hendricks
Animator: Phil Brooks
Creative Director: Dirk Greene
VFX Artist: Betty Cameron
VFX Artist: Jenna DeAngelis

Color: Company 3
Senior Colorist: Tom Poole
Colorist: Sophie Borup
Producer: Alexandra Lubrano

Composers: Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans
Sound Wave Studios NY
Sound Designer/Mixer: Aaron Reynolds
Sound Designer/Mixer: Ed Downham
Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."