Video Campaign Has Celebs Praising New York Times’ Online Treasures

Aiming to boost awareness of its multimedia offerings, the New York Times has launched an online marketing campaign that features video vignettes of celebrities presenting unscripted descriptions of their favorite corners of NYTimes.com.

The campaign includes videos of Kenneth Cole, Padma Lakshmi, John Leguizamo, John Cameron Mitchell, Isaac Mizrahi, Bebe Neuwirth, Cynthia Nixon, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Lynn Redgrave, Eric Ripert, Ben Stein and Justin Tuck. While the site launched with 12 video vignettes, Yasmin Namini, the newspaper’s senior vice president of marketing and circulation, said more [from the same batch of celebrities] will be published soon.

“This is a marketing micro-site,” explained Namini. “The micro-site has marketing modules on NYTimes.com. When you click on them, they take you to the site.” She said the company also ran a full-page ad in the newspaper Tuesday announcing the micro-site. Other publicity efforts include promotions on the Times’s YouTubeand Facebook pages, Namini said.

Although the micro-site was created with help from Your Majesty, a New York-based marketing company, all other aspects of the campaign were designed in-house.

The videos are built with viral distribution over social networking channels and blogs in mind. Namini and Soraya Darabi, manager of partnership and buzz marketing, noted the celebrity videos are easy to e-mail and share on social networking sites.

“The public relations department has a considerable contact list with influential bloggers,” noted Darabi. “There will also be considerable press outreach… Ideally, these videos will be promoted elsewhere off of our channel.”

Photographer and documentary maker Douglas Keeve directed the videos. To get the celebrities for the effort, the Times “cast a wide net,” said Namini. “We sent out about 100 or so letters to various celebrities in all different walks of life. These 12 were among those that responded.”

Because the vignettes were not scripted, the celebrities sometimes do not clearly describe where to go for the features they espouse. To deal with that, the site creators included drop-down menus that appear with the videos. Viewers can click on the menu’s tabs to see the feature being discussed in the vignette.

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