WSJ To Pit Its Incumbent Shops Against Each Other, Outsiders

The Wall Street Journal is conducting what a representative last week called an “informal review” of its consolidated ad account, currently split between Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and J. Walter Thompson.
In recent weeks, the newspaper’s marketing executives have solicited branding ideas from Hill, Holliday in Boston and JWT, among other shops, said WSJ representative Celia Currin. The review stems from a merger of the newspaper’s trade and circulation marketing departments, she said.
Hill, Holliday was named in 1996 to develop advertising programs aimed at increasing circulation. The newspaper continued to retain JWT for trade efforts.
Spending on Hill, Holliday’s portion of the account is considerably larger than the piece handled by JWT. WSJ, published by Dow Jones & Co. in New York, spent almost $20 million on ads in 1997; $17 million in the first six months of 1998, per Competitive Media Reporting.
Like many newspapers, WSJ has seen little growth in readership. Circulation dipped slightly from 1,837,111 last year to 1,820,186, per the March 31, 1998 Audit Bureau of Circulations report. However, it remains the largest-circulation business newspaper in the world.
The WSJ is the most recent publisher to engage shops in discussions, a practice often dismissed as routine because such companies, as providers of ad space, routinely talk to agencies that place ads. New publishers at magazines George and The New Yorker also confirmed talks with shops about their separate ad accounts [Adweek, Sept. 7].