campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 19 September 2002 08:00AM
Perhaps this relative coyness is a concession to the sabbath. It certainly helps address the problem of the Daily Star's take-home value: a fine read for workmen enjoying a brick red cuppa between hods, but not necessarily for the family breakfast table on a Sunday morning.
So the new Daily Star Sunday is a little less saucy than its sister, though unlike other Sunday versions of daily papers it shares an approach with the Daily Star. And on this basis it wasn't a bad result. This "collector's edition" (a trophy status more likely to be attained if the paper goes belly up) offered "the coolest showbiz mag" (aren't they all), a free dance CD, and by the time the front page was going to press the paper was already apparently number one for sport.
The columnist Helen Chamberlain (whose biggest claim to d-list fame is the fact that she works with Kirsty Gallacher who apparently has a rather large cup size) is possibly the worst of her ilk. Sport, to my untrained eye, was good enough. News was, erm, an interesting interpretation of the brief - mostly reheated celebrity gossip ("Geri's too sexy for us" took up the first inside spread, with a lovely pic of Ms Halliwell wearing a skirt that made even my eyes water). The ads ranged from the bizarre to the tabloid staples, from Universal Star Listing ("have your star name in the constellation of your choice") and RapidCash insurance to Vauxhall and MFI.
Anyway, this predictable but chirpy package is cunningly priced at a modest 35p and, let's be honest, if all you're after is a bit of trashy gossip around your TV listings, well 35p is a fair price. The Daily Star Sunday has none of the beef of the News of the World, none of the editorial voice or crafty journalism, and it certainly offers nothing the other redtops don't.
Yet the 35p will be a real temptation to Star readers who switch to the News of the World on Sunday; together with the usual in-your-face cross promotion, the price will play a big part in driving Star readers' loyalty across the full seven days. And the 35p means it is more likely to expand the whole Sunday tabloid market by luring in new readers, though probably as an impulse purchase rather than must-buy.
Though the additional costs for Desmond are relatively modest, and the resulting paper unapologetically cheap and tatty, any launch is a bold move in the current economic climate and in a relentlessly constricting market. For that, and his relentless brio, Desmond deserves a little more respect than he is used to getting from the press.
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This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk