Feature

Media: Double Standards - 'I continue to be impressed by the fakesheikh'

Ad directors from the Sunday papers compare notes on negotiation strategy, why quality content will survive and Becks' text sex.

IAN CLARK - ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, TIMES NEWSPAPERS

- What will be the next format innovation after compact?

The transformation to compact has been hugely successful for The Times both in terms of its readership and circulation and the opportunities it offers advertisers. I suspect formats will remain reasonably stable over the next few years. Our focus is Times Online and we are offering readers and advertisers a truly integrated, multiplatform approach.

- Do you cross-sell your daily and Sunday newspapers and why?

The Times, The Sunday Times and Times Online are all leading brands in their own right. Together, they make a formidable and complementary package.

- You magazine has gone on the newsstands. Do you think other women's Sunday supplements will follow suit?

It will be interesting to see how successful the newsstand You is. It's early days though, so let's see. Certainly, there are no plans for Style to follow suit.

- What is the most exciting thing you have delivered for advertisers in the past year?

Our development team is breaking new ground for advertisers. The campaign we ran for BT to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos is an example of what we can do with print and online editorial, advertising and events. Advertisers might highlight The Times was the only national to deliver a six-monthly circulation increase against the previous year for every month last year.

- How important are DVD giveaways to your marketing strategy and is it a sustainable long-term strategy?

DVDs are important for circulation, but they are not sustainable in isolation or any substitution for editorial content - which is why we focus heavily on the product and a broad mix of other engaging promotions.

- What is your style in negotiations with agencies and advertisers?

After 15 years working at agencies, I can appreciate that a collaborative approach gets the best deal for both parties. I would hope we're harsh but fair.

- Should we be concerned that falling editorial budgets at some newspapers will impact on quality in the market?

Our competitors have cut their editorial budgets at their peril, but we continue to invest heavily in the product and the quality is higher than ever.

- What is your all-time favourite Sunday newspaper expose?

For the sheer furore, the News of the World's expose of the Beckham texts.

- What newspaper did you read growing up?

The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

SIMON DAVIES - ADVERTISEMENT DIRECTOR, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

- What will be the next format innovation after compact?

Calling "compact" an innovation is a bit of a stretch - the tabloid format isn't new, it's just new to some publishers. However, improving portability and accessibility of newspapers is key to their future, so I suspect we may eventually see further reductions in size. And, with the advances in the development of electronic paper, we'll all be downloading our morning papers to read on the hoverpod commute or in our self-steering cars on the way to the lifestyle theme park on a Sunday morning ...

- Do you cross-sell your daily and Sunday newspapers and why?

No, we don't cross-sell. We believe that the competition is healthy and that advertisers should be able to choose either The Mail on Sunday or the Daily Mail and not be subject to a conditional sell. Having said that, we do work together on creative pitches when using both brands offers the best solution for an advertiser.

- You magazine has gone on the newsstands. Do you think other women's Sunday supplements will follow suit?

No - I don't believe any other Sunday supplement has the strong brand identity and quality of You magazine.

- What is the most exciting thing you have delivered for advertisers in the past year?

Our magazines. We've launched the only men's magazine in the national press and we've relaunched our market-leading women's magazine and put it on the newsstand - a huge investment.

- How important are DVD giveaways to your marketing strategy and is it a sustainable long-term strategy?

DVDs are just one of the methods we use to encourage trial of the newspaper in order to build circulation. We will use it for as long as it keeps working for us or until film distributors crumble under the pressure from retailers not to supply product that is available for sale, as is happening with the music publishers.

- What is your style in negotiations with agencies and advertisers?

We believe in the strength of our product and we won't devalue our brands by jumping on the volume-driven discounting bandwagon. But we will explore every avenue and be as flexible as we can to offer best value within our own yield requirements. We all have a business to run.

- Should we be concerned that falling editorial budgets at some newspapers will impact on quality in the market?

It's not a problem we have at The Mail on Sunday. Inevitably, some of the less successful newspapers will see a compromise in editorial quality as cutbacks are made, but the strong brands will survive and prosper so quality will still be on offer.

- What is your all-time favourite Sunday newspaper expose?

I continue to be impressed by the News of the World's "fake sheikh", Mazher Mahmood. The fact that people in the public eye still fall for his set-ups says a great deal about the naive self-importance of the people we assign "celebrity" status in today's culture.

- What newspaper did you read growing up?

My father was, and still is, an avid fan of the Telegraph. I picked up the habit and still read it daily - however, the Saturday edition is by far the best (alongside the Daily Mail, Mr Zitter.) Sunday, however, was the "News of the Screws" and is now the Mail on Sunday followed by a vast selection that I read through the week.