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Have you noticed the new Wall Street Journal ad campaign yet? "Every journey needs a Journal" uses celebrities from the spectrum of industries (Sheryl Crow and Jake Burton, to Alice Waters and Oscar De La Hoya), who are telling their histories -- with the relevant WSJ news tied in along the timeline.

So, for example, Sheryl Crow's journey highlights her music career as well as her breast cancer diagnosis/treatment. The print ad shows a large b/w image of her looking past the camera (to her next stop on her journey?) with a line drawing/handwritten style timeline that includes a WSJ clipping of a breast cancer risk article. Then, the companion site includes a bio of each celebrity and a short, well-done video interview/documentary type piece (See the Oscar De La Hoya one embedded below. Sheryl Crow's video is not yet up.)
Now, certainly the Wall Street Journal has the advantage in that its whole reason for being is this sort of in-depth content, but there are still elements of this "Journeys" campaign that any brand could put into play. A few things worth noting:
1) They used celebrities (a few of whom may still fly a bit under the radar for the general public) but focused both on the thing that made them famous AND their life as a regular person. Sheryl Crow is famous for her music, but she is a normal person in her fight with breast cancer. Celebrities or not, this type of mini-profile gives prospective subscribers and ad campaign viewers a lot of possibilities for finding common ground with their fellow readers.
2) The design of the campaign is spare and simple, but compelling. Large images of the celebrity in question, hand-drawn and written timelines, and lots of white space so the viewer can absorb the message in the tale -- and possibly be inspired to head online. When a print ad viewer then goes online, the design look/feel of the site is consistent with the magazine ad they just saw - an obvious, but still brilliant move in this day and age.
3) The WSJ seems to understand that in order to broaden their audience, they have to get away from the stuffy old-boy newspaper reputation that they might have. This campaign, with its real people/real stories, makes the paper seem that much more accessible to a wider range of readers. There may be a lot of people in the world who have kept the WSJ in the money/markets/business box up until now, with no idea how much more "human interest" and cultural perspective the paper covers as well. This campaign helps to subtly change that view.
(They also made sure that the videos would be easy for low-tech people like me to figure out how to embed. For more on the development/shooting/sharing of the videos, here's a great blog post.)
Now, I admit, I'm on a marketing-through-storytelling kick, so I'm hyper-aware of good examples these days. But, I have found it fascinating to observe as brands have started to mine their existing content, customer base, blogs, YouTube and employee files for new and interesting angles on their work, products or services.

Where does your brand intersect with the journeys of its customers?

Continue reading "WSJ: Using a Customer's Journey to Tell a Compelling Story" ... Read the full article

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image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.