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NewFronts 2015: NY Times Touts Innovation and Prestige

The New York Times kicked off the 2015 NewFronts with a tony presentation to advertisers Monday emphasizing prestige and experience over data points and headline grabs.

“What I really am is a TV guy,” said CEO Mark Thompson, a BBC alum, in his opening remarks. That intro followed a modernist violin performance from online sensation Caroline Shaw. Her pizzicato reverb was set against a monochromatic, tech-forward backdrop seemingly lifted out of a James Turrell exhibition or a Brian Eno-in-ambient-mode concert.

Meredith Kopit Levien, recently elevated to chief revenue officer, and Rebecca Howard, GM of video, took turns introducing clips and guests spanning the entire newsroom, from international news to fashion to food and entertainment. Notably, the pitch led off with a long sequence highlighting several overseas enterprise projects, including one on the Ebola outbreak that garnered the Times its first Pulitzer Prize recognizing a video journalist by name.

“There’s a lot of great content out there, but nothing like that,” Howard said.

The morning concluded with a dose of experimentation. The Times showed ad buyers a virtual reality film starring the French artist JR. The film, Walking New York, was also featured on the cover of last Sunday’s Times magazine.

Attendees were able to see it using headphones and the Vrse app. Execs promised more Vrse works will come to the Times site down the line.