As traditional media struggle to establish their brands on tablet computers and other mobile devices, The Washington Post serves up iconic newsmen Bob Woodward and Benjamin Bradlee—and recalls its own headline-making heyday—to tout the paper's iPad app.
Launched this week, the app is available for free in Apple's iTunes Store. Once downloaded onto the iPad, users can explore the newspaper's latest content by logging in with an existing WaPo account or registering within the app.
While iPad apps are not new to the world of publishing, the paper is hoping to stand out by promoting its app via a humorous commercial starring Woodward, a legendary investigative reporter and currently an associate editor of The Post, and Bradlee, The Post's vp at-large who helmed the broadsheet during its Watergate highpoint. (Woodward, along with Carl Bernstein, broke that story of political scandal in the early 1970s and helped topple the administration of Richard Nixon.)
The ad, which is set to a fun instrumental beat, opens with Woodward in a newsroom, typing on a word processor—as if paying homage to the olden days of journalism. A co-worker asks him if he's heard about app for iPad and he seems a bit puzzled by the news. As Woodward makes his way through the newsroom, columnists, reporters and editors are all chatting up the app and its many features. Woodward, still confused by the app, walks into Bradlee's office and asks for help. Bradlee explains its capabilities to Woodward, who finally gets it.
The two-minute spot contains some clever references to Hollywood and The Post's history—like when a woman mistakes Woodward for Robert Redford who played the journalist in All the President's Men. Although a bit long compared to the typical 30-second spot, the commercial makes a strong case for The Post's iPad app.
Bradlee puts it all in perspective: "It's the future. Get with it."