It’s been over five years since the Senate Intelligence Committee released its investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program after 9/11. While the story took over newspapers’ front pages and websites’ homepages, it didn’t stay in the news cycle for very long, according to Daniel J. Jones, the former U.S. Senate staffer who led the investigation.
But Amazon Studios picked up the movie version, called The Report, and has launched a massive national ad campaign timed to the film’s release on Friday to put the story back on the front pages of newspapers and news sites in hopes of reaching a wider audience this time around.
“I don’t think we penetrated culture in any ideal way,” Jones told Adweek. “This film will reach a much broader audience.”
Today, many of the country’s leading newspapers—including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News—will be wrapped in faux, redacted versions of their own frontpages and mastheads.
“We are relentlessly looking for ways to be innovative with the print publishing platform, and are excited to partner with Amazon Studios on this execution,” said L.A. Times chief revenue officer Josh Brandau in a statement.
The newspapers will also feature an inside spread and back page promoting the movie, in which Jones (played by Adam Driver) operates under the direction of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (played by Annette Bening). “Storytelling and narrative impacts people and stays with people,” Jones said. “[Director Scott Z. Burns]’s film really reaches people in a way that written text does not.”
Amazon is also releasing the movie in the middle of President Trump’s impeachment hearings and at a time when the political system “is really in crisis,” Burns said.
“Confirmation bias has really reached epidemic proportions in our society,” Burns told Adweek. “I always thought the way to vaccinate people against confirmation bias was with facts, but now we can’t even decide what a fact is.”
The movie deals with the news cycle and redacted information. One scene, Burns said, shows how difficult a story is to understand when information is omitted.
“What happened with the report of the Senate intelligence agency really is a precursor to what you’re seeing right now when you turn on the TV and you watch the news,” Burns said.
Three newspapers participating in the campaign aren’t allowing Amazon to use their mastheads. Those include The New York Times and the Boston Globe, which will have “Truth Matters,” the tagline of the movie, in place of their mastheads. The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, does not do cover wraps but will have a center spread in its paper on Friday and across digital.
Spokespersons for the publishers did not respond to requests for comment.
The campaign extended to the websites of some of those newspapers, including USA Today, the L.A. Times and WaPo as well as digital news sites including CNN, The Guardian, Fox News and Apple News.
The specific nature of the digital campaigns depends on the publisher, but most are unique takeovers in which the outlet’s full screen is replaced with redacted portions of text. The real articles are then revealed to show the publisher’s actual homepage.
The campaign will also include conceptual art inspired by the text of Burns’ script and created by Jenny Holzer that will travel through L.A. over the coming days. The campaign will also extend to social platforms, including Twitter, where using the hashtag #TheReportMovie will display a custom emoji of a redacted piece of paper. Amazon Studios oversaw the campaign and Creative Impact Agency handled design.