WSJ Bashes Free Business Sites in New Campaign

Taking a swipe at providers of free business content on the Internet, the Wall Street Journal Online has launched an ad campaign that compares the subscription site with a fictional publisher called “Biz-o-Rama.”

In the campaign, The Wall Street Journal is juxtaposed with a brightly colored, flashy publication that features headlines like “Buy Low, Sell High, Advises Expert,” in an effort to convey that it’s worth paying to receive trustworthy business news.

“There’s a lot of stuff out on the Internet, and that’s a problem with the Internet,” said Scott Schulman, president of consumer electronic publishing at Dow Jones , which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

The campaign, whose budget was not disclosed, debuted this week on television stations like ESPN, Fox News and CNBC. Print versions of the ads appear in the print Journal in an effort to convince print subscribers to add online access. These half-page house ads show a stack of “Biz-o-Rama” newspapers above text like: “You wouldn’t read this instead of The Wall Street Journal. So why do it online?”

Web ads appear on business-oriented sites like the Motley Fool and NASDAQ.com. The creative is a Flash animation showing two computer screens, one displaying the Biz-o-Rama site and the other displaying the Wall Street Journal Online. The animated computer screens bump up against one another above the text: “Why pay for business news online?” Finally, the Journal dominates the screen, and the tagline appears: “Because you need a source you can trust.” Clicking takes viewers to an interactive demo of the Wall Street Journal Online, which makes the case for subscribing to the publication.

Another digital element of the campaign is a Web site at www.biz-o-rama.com. Clicking on links on the visually busy site takes visitors to the message “You weren’t really expecting to find reliable business news here. Were you? Click here for a trusted news source.” Clicking leads users to a Flash demo of the Journal site.

The campaign, developed by Baltimore-based advertising agency, Trahan, Burden and Charles, is the first major advertising push following a highly touted redesign of the site, which accompanied a redesign of the print publication unveiled in January 2002. New features added included improved organization and navigation tools, as well as home page personalization.

The site, which charges U.S. users $79 annually for a standalone online subscription, had more then 664,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2002, an increase of 9 percent from the same period in 2001.

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