Dec 6, 2022 - Economy

GE buys out entire NYT print paper in historic first

Photo of GE's cover wrap on top of NYT paper it sponsored on December 6th 2022, Photo: Sara Fischer/Axios

The New York Times on Tuesday unveiled a unique version of its weekday print paper featuring more than two dozen ads from just one advertiser — General Electric.

Why it matters: It’s the first time in the paper’s 171-year history that any advertiser has gotten to own all of The Times’ print real estate exclusively — in addition to most of its premier digital advertising real estate.

GE-wrapped New York Times papers being printed at The Times' presses last night in College Point, Queens. Photo: Katie Wiggin / The New York Times
  • To celebrate the occasion, top executives from The Times and GE met at The Times’ flagship printing press in Queens to watch the papers print in real time Monday evening.
  • The partnership represents a shift at The Times in the last ten years from selling pages ad hoc to building big, interactive marketing campaigns for brands that are highly produced and can earn their own coverage.

Details: The seven-figure campaign centers on GE’s core message of focus, as it begins a plan to split into three publicly-traded companies: GE HealthCare, GE Aerospace and GE Vernova (energy).

  • Each new GE company is represented with its own set of ads that explains its focus through employee testimonials, statistics and purpose statements.

State of play: Working with The New York Times’ advertising creative arm, T Brand Studio, and Giant Spoon, GE’s media agency of record, GE developed a series of interactive ads that are designed to guide readers through three science-based focus exercises.

  • For example, one page guides readers through how to create a foldable paper airplane via a visual guide adapted from a book written by Ken Blackburn, a four-time Guinness World Record holder for time keeping a paper airplane in flight.
  • Another includes a circular crossword puzzle from award-winning puzzle maker Brendan Emmett Quigley.
  • "From a media strategy standpoint, if you can create focus, you can talk about focus," said Laura Correnti, a partner at Giant Spoon. "For us this was really about singling GE out as the only message throughout the NYT ecosystem on this day."

Between the lines: The print takeover includes a total of 22 full-page color ads, in addition to five partial pages that run across the paper’s main news section as well as its business and arts & sciences sections.

  • The paper itself is covered in a glossy GE-branded wrap that includes the logos for the three new GE companies that are being split off from GE within the next two years.
  • In addition to print ads, the campaign also includes desktop and mobile home page takeovers, an audio takeover of The Times’ flagship podcast “The Daily,” sponsorship of the Times’ AM and PM newsletter briefings and digital section takeovers The Times’ opinion, business and DealBook sections.
  • The paper will be delivered Tuesday to The Times' 330,000 weekday print subscribers, and will also be available on newsstands.
  • As a part of the campaign, GE will distribute an additional 5,000 copies of the paper throughout New York City, including at Grand Central Station, Penn Station, the NY Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ and along Ferry Street.

Be smart: The campaign represents GE's most significant advertising effort for the split of its company.

  • It's timed just ahead of GE HealthCare's first ever investor day on December 8.
  • GE's board approved spinning out GE HealthCare last week, and the new firm's stock will begin public trading next year. GE Aerospace and GE Vernova will be spun out as standalone companies in 2024.

The big picture: This isn't the first innovative partnership between The Times and GE.

  • In 2015, GE was one of the first advertisers to bring The Times’ virtual reality product to life.
  • In 2018, GE sponsored a unique edition of The Times’ Sunday Magazine that featured almost no text, but rather, a gallery of photographs with a corresponding soundtrack meant to help readers understand the photos.
  • In an interview, GE's longtime marketing chief Linda Boff, cited the scale and depth of The Times' audience, as well as its expertise in quality storytelling, as the reason GE chose to partner with The Times.
  • "This isn’t just advertising. The content has to be fantastic," Boff said. "It has to be just as interesting as the story on the page before it."

What to watch: Seb Tomich, head of advertising at The Times, told Axios that The Times is open to running another edition with one exclusive advertiser but would need to be selective about the brand.

  • "This isn’t an off-the-shelf product," he said. "It takes a lot of work to clear out the entire paper for one brand."
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