The New York Times is again looking to fashion to amplify its own brand.
As part of a marketing push around Earth Day, the publisher is teaming with Everlane for a small collection of T-shirts and sweatshirts that riff on its ongoing “The Truth Is Worth It” campaign, but with an environmental twist. Everlane is one of the few players in fashion to make issues of sustainability, from Clean Silk to taking new plastic out of its supply chain, a core part of its business and brand messaging, making it a good fit for the Times’ own idea of promoting its climate change coverage around the annual observance.
David Rubin, chief marketing officer at the Times, said the publisher is generally looking for ways to “more broadly” get out the campaign’s message, which works to promote a digital subscription to the paper being worth the money (and helping the environment since it saves trees because it doesn’t require paper). About 100 million people a month come to the Times online, and while digital subscribers have grown to 3.4 million, they’re still a fraction of those who don’t pay for the content.
“Our marketing is highlighting what our journalism is and how it’s different and that’s why it’s worth paying for,” Rubin said, drawing the comparison to content from so many digital outlets that’s free. “We’re trying to show people that our choice is the right one.”
Some proceeds of the Everlane partnership will also go toward funding student subscriptions to the paper, of which subscribers over the last two years have already gifted more than 3 million.
Getting people who already appreciate the Times to show it off is another part of the Times’ strategy with merch. The publisher paired with Sacai last year on a similar type of collection, and while most of the pieces sold out, even better was that some high-profile people who bought took to social media to show off their wares.
“Because we’re working with people making products that people really want and because of what the brand stands for, that resonates,” Rubin said. “And people are thinking about journalism and journalism in society today, so these products allow us to tap into that love for the Times and their love for the partner brand in a way that lets them go and show others.”
Rubin noted that, not so long ago, anyone would know who was a Times reader simply because they would be carrying around the actual newspaper or reading it in public somewhere. “No one knows what you’re reading on your phone,” Rubin said. Enter totes and, now, T-shirts and pullovers.
And more commercials. On Earth Day, April 22, this year, the Times will be rolling out a new TV spot further highlighting its climate change coverage. The ad will feature reporting and photography from an interactive feature investigation on the Galapagos Islands and how the rising temperature of the world’s oceans is impacting the storied islands and their biodiversity, showing what went into the reporting.
Rubin admitted that for a long time, news publishers were reticent to push their own work in such a way, linking it to a long-held and still valid journalistic ethos of keeping reporters and institutions “out of the story.”
“Where we are today,” he added, “people are looking for how the story was told to know they can trust it.”
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