The Washington Post's first brand campaign highlights the impact of its journalism

First spot created with Buddha Jones centers on investigative reporter Craig Whitlock's reporting on the Afghanistan Papers

Published On
Oct 28, 2021

Editor's Pick

Today, The Washington Post debuts its first-ever national brand campaign. Titled “Impact,” it aims to highlight the relevance of the news organization's original reporting to people, culture and institutions.

The first ad in the push is a fast-paced, movie trailer-inspired ad full of bold graphics and visuals. It sets the stage with The Washington Post’s logo, which becomes a keyhole through which unfolds the story of The Afghanistan Papers, investigative journalist Craig Whitlock’s extensive reporting on a collection of 2,000 secret documents on what officials believed went awry with the U.S. war in the country. The spot then closes on the Post's slogan, "Democracy Dies in Darkness," before returning again to the wordmark.

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According to Kristine Coratti Kelly, chief communications officer at The Washington Post, the goal of the campaign is to create awareness of the organization as a brand that covers more than just politics. In recent years, it has made a “massive” investment throughout its newsrooms in a variety of areas, including technology, personal finance and explanatory reporting, to ensure that it serves readers across the board as a core news source. “We’re doing reporting that touches people’s lives,” Kelly said.

Future spots in the campaign will continue to use the keyhole conceit to showcase the breadth of coverage across its various platforms. “Ultimately, we can show we are a multimedia news organization, not just the printed word, which is something that our Executive Editor, Sally Buzbee, talks about all the time,” said Kelly. “It’s about telling the story in the best format for that story. This [campaign] will give us an opportunity to experiment with that a little bit.”

Besides broadening its reporting, the publication has also invested heavily in international expansion, adding more foreign bureaus as well as breaking news hubs in Europe and Asia.

The Washington Post has seen considerable growth since it was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013. At the time, it had an audience of 17 million. Today its average readership is 82 million. 

“This campaign is all in support of further growth heading into next year,” Kelly said. 

The new brand push arrives as other news organizations are making big investments in branding, such as The New York Times’ “Truth”-centered campaigns with Droga5 as well as CNN’s “Facts First” with Fig.  On how the Post aims to stand out amidst the competition, “I personally love that we've taken a more accessible approach, something that is really easy to dive into that, to me, leaves you wanting more,” Kelly said. “My hope is that over time, we will have a collection of spots that leaves people feeling, ‘I want to go see that movie.’”

Creative Partners

To create the campaign, the Washington Post worked with consultancy Going Concern, founded by former Droga5 vice chairman and CEO Andrew Essex and Hollywood, California-based Buddha Jones, an agency that has extensive experience in entertainment industry advertising, with clients including Warner Brothers, Paramount, Netflix and Amazon Studios. 

“Not only were they able to give us this really creative wrapper around the trailer that gives us a thread through the campaign with the iconic WP keyhole, but they were able to tell that story so concisely and so beautifully,” Kelly said of the Buddha Jones team.

The spot will debut on broadcast tonight on ABC during “Jeopardy” and run again on the show the next two Thursdays, with other showings between and after. 

Kelly said that the media investment in the campaign is considerable. She did not disclose a precise budget, but said that in the initial six-week run, spending is in the seven figures. 

The publication also worked with Noble People on media and design firm Pentagram. With a team led by partner/designer Eddie Opara, Pentagram created a landing page for the new push but is also developing the Post’s broader corporate platform.

Though “Impact” marks the Post’s first brand push, the news organization has advertised before, most notably during the Super Bowl in 2019. Kelly said the Post does not have plans to run an ad in the game next year, however. “We’re really focused on making sure that we’re running throughout the year and have a cadence that will really capture people. I feel like there’s a lot to be done outside the Super Bowl.”

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Oct 28, 2021
Client :
Washington Post
Agency :
Buddha Jones

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