WSJ's Striking New Ad Takes Aim at Memes, Hashtags and Rainbow Barf

'Read Yourself Better,' says Juan Cabral's stylized spot

The Wall Street Journal takes some eye-catching pot shots at our oversaturated media culture in a big new brand film from The&Partnertship and MJZ director Juan Cabral. 

The spot, which will run nationally, is about getting past the memes, hashtags and algorithmically selected news stories and into news of substance, provided by the WSJ. Cabral, still perhaps best known for his "Gorilla" spot for Cadbury all those years ago, brings a gleeful cinematic destruction to the proceedings, as he literally blows up (practically, with little CGI) emblems of ephemeral internet media. 

The final message is: "Read yourself better." 

WSJ | Read Yourself Better

Interestingly, the music in the spot comes from a 1976 album called Plantasia, which was released to help plants grow. (Can it do the same for WSJ subscriptions?) Also, the WSJ is dropping its paywall for three days, Nov. 9-11, and in a few weeks will launch a pop-up vending machine where passers-by will be able to upgrade their old magazines and newspapers for new copies of the WSJ.

"Client and agency were on the same page from day one and we all shared a collective vision of how to make this a true statement piece," says Cabral. "Outside of the sheer fun of blowing up muffins, building troll armies and bringing rainbow puke to life, I think we're able hit at a deeper truth—not just about why we can't tear ourselves away from our phones but also where we get our information from every day." 

The music, he adds, is "an elegant parallel with the theme of the piece, which is about the Journal as a vehicle for readers' growth." 

"The idea behind 'Read yourself better' is to highlight how hard it is for consumers to navigate our overloaded media landscape and to figure out who to trust and what's worth reading," says Justin Ruben, executive creative director at The&Partnership in New York. "The WSJ is a solution to this with its quality journalism based on facts. Creatively we wanted to bring the online and offline world to life in a new and unexpected way and create a visual world that also broke through the clutter."

Campaigns from The&Partnership have helped the Journal grow subscriptions by more than 40 percent over the past four years.

Below, check out some OOH executions.


Client: The Wall Street Journal
Clients: Suzi Watford, Chief Marketing & Membership Officer
Clients: Paul Plumeri, VP of Global Marketing WSJ
Clients: Karl Wells, GM, WSJ Membership

Creative Agency: The&Partnership New York
Executive Creative Director: Justin Ruben
Art Director: David Tomkins
Copywriter: Simon Philion
Designer: Veronica Jeronimo
Head of Integrated Production: Kevin Wilson
Producer: Niki Polyocan

President: Agnes Fischer
Chief Strategy Officer: Colm Murphy
Business Director: Ryan Colet
Account Supervisor: Matthew Connelly

Production Company: MJZ
Director: Juan Cabral
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
DOP: Roman Vasyanov
Production Partner: Labhouse
Managing Director: Flora Fernandez Marengo
Producer: Natalia Mussolana
Production Manager: Patricia Rzeznik
1st AD: Esteban Gomez
Art Director: Micala Saeigh
Art Director: Maria Battaglia
Stylist: Florencia Tellado

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Managing Director: Eve Kornblum
Editor: Mikkel EG Nielsen
Assistant Editor: Alex Liu

VFX: Framestore
Executive Creative Director: Murray Butler
Creative Director: Jordi Bares Dominguez
Director of Production: Sarah Hiddlestone
Senior Producer: Sue McNamara

Sound: Wave Studios NY
Sound Design: Chris Afzal and Aaron Reynolds
Mix: Chris Afzal and Aaron Reynolds
Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro
Associate Producer: Eleni Giannopoulos

Voiceover: Boyd Holbrook
Music: Mort Garson - 'Plantasia'

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