PewDiePie bro army sneaks meme-filled ad page onto WSJ.com

The typo-riddled, meme-filled ad page claimed the Wall Street Journal had fired journalists and wanted people to subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Screenshot of YouTube celebrity PewDiePie

Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, has taken issue with reporting by the Wall Street Journal in the past. 

Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

PewDiePie's bro army has hit back at a publisher that hit PewDiePie first. 

The Wall Street Journal's website was compromised with a page supporting PewDiePie in the race to keep his channel's status as YouTube's most-subscribed. The page, which claimed the WSJ was apologizing to the YouTube star and had fired journalists who misrepresented him, asked people to subscribe to his channel and included a string of memes.  

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has been YouTube's most-subscribed channel for more than five years, but in recent weeks he and his fanbase -- known as the bro army -- have been working to fend off another channel threatening to top his. T-Series, a channel with Indian movie trailers and music videos, is operated by an Indian music record label and film production company of the same name. At 77 million subscribers, PewDiePie's channel leads T-Series by about 1.4 million. (The next-closest channel has 44 million.)

A representative for Dow Jones, the publisher of the Journal, said the company has removed the page, which was operated by WSJ Custom Solutions, a unit of the company's advertising arm. It's a "branded content" unit that produces advertising pages that have many of the hallmarks of a news report. The page wasn't affiliated with The Wall Street Journal newsroom, and the Journal's publishing system is "completely separate" from the one used by WSJ Custom Solutions, he added. 

"We have launched a full investigation," the rep said. He didn't respond to questions about whether the page was posted through a cyberattack or by somebody simply taking advantage of WSJ Custom Solutions' tools in bad faith. 

Kjellberg used his Twitter account to call out the ad page and its deletion. 

The message on the paper's website said: "WallStreet Journal would like to apologize to pewdiepie. Due to misrepresentation by our journalists, those of whom have now been fired, we are sponsoring pewdiepie to reach maximum subscribers and beat Tseries to 80million. We also need your credit card number, expiry date, and the lucky 3 digits on the back to win the chicken dinner in fortnite."

The message, which concluded with an allusion to the Epic Gamers meme, included a string of image memes after it. 

Last year, WSJ reports about racist and anti-Semitic overtones in some of Kjellberg's video jokes led to an advertiser backlash against him. His channel lost the ability to run ads, a crucial way that channels generate revenue. Disney, which had a partnership with Kjellberg through its acquisition of a digital video agency Maker, cut ties with him too.  

Originally published at 9:39 a.m. PT. 
Updated at 10:16 a.m. PT: With subscriber count numbers. 

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