Trump Lashes Out at New York Times Ad Set to Air on the Oscars Tonight

President calls Droga5 spot 'bad'

Headshot of Tim Nudd

The New York Times was hoping to start a dialogue with its new brand campaign from Droga5. But it couldn’t have expected that the president himself would weigh in just three days after the work broke.

Donald Trump on Sunday morning posted a tweet slamming the Times’ ad campaign—which is focused on the importance of the truth, and independent journalists’ role in finding it—calling a TV spot from the campaign “bad” and implying it was a waste of resources.

“For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!” he wrote.

Trump appeared to be referring to “The Truth Is Hard,” a 30-second spot that will air Sunday night during the Academy Awards on ABC. (Fox & Friends Weekend showed the spot on Sunday morning, which may have been what prompted Trump’s tweet. CNN’s New Day also did a segment about the ad on Sunday morning.)

See the ad here:

This will be the first commercial the newspaper has ever aired during the Oscars—which is what Trump is referencing by saying “first time.” (Clearly this isn’t the Times’ first ad campaign in its history.)

With the tweet, Trump risks not only giving more exposure to the Times’ ad campaign, but also reinforcing its message—that independent journalism and a free press are indeed important, particularly when they’re under attack from the president himself. (Trump regularly labels the Times a “failing” organization, though this might be the first time he’s done so twice in one sentence.)

On the other hand, Trump is reinforcing his own message here, too—his view that the mainstream media is not to be trusted.

The Times did not immediately respond to Trump’s tweet, though it did post the link below soon after—likely just a coincidence in its scheduling of editorial links to Twitter.

Droga5 declined to comment to Adweek about Trump’s tweet.

“The Truth Is Hard” is the first TV advertising the Times has done since 2010 and its first brand-focused TV spot in a decade. The broader campaign includes national and local television, digital, social media, outdoor and print advertising.

See the print work below.

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.