USA Today in War of Words With Journal

Gannett’s USA Today has fired the latest salvo in the national newspaper war. Six months after News Corp.’s The Wall Street Journal trumpeted it has edged USA Today as the nation’s largest circulation daily, its rival is swiping back in a new ad campaign that questions the Journal’s relevancy.

One ad, by The Farm agency in Roanoke, Va., reads “What’s Heard on the Street Doesn’t Really Matter,” with the Journal’s popular stock column name printed in a font mimicking its black, spindly logo. Other ads position USA Today as “balanced,” “clear” and “unpretentious.” The “What America Wants” campaign launched March 22 in various trade and consumer media outlets (including in Mediaweek).

Susan Lavington, USA Today svp, marketing, said the paper wanted to counter the Journal’s message that it’s the biggest when USA Today has a bigger print circ. “The challenge has been in the misperception with our advertisers,” she said.  

USA Today, which has a sizable portion of copies sold to hotels, saw its circ decline to 1.9 million as of September 2009 following a slowdown in business travel. Including digital copies, The Journal’s circ averaged 2 million, including digital copies.