Steering the Mirror towards its goals is a two-year task - The rejuvenation strategy put in place at the Mirror cannot yet be judged as a success or a failure because the plans are aimed at the long term, Roger Eastoe says

A previous editor of the Mirror told me how newspapers were like oil tankers - to turn the corner you have to plot the course a long way ahead and constantly check your co-ordinates.

A previous editor of the Mirror told me how newspapers were like

oil tankers - to turn the corner you have to plot the course a long way

ahead and constantly check your co-ordinates.



I regard this as good advice and I think many newspaper editors and

marketing men would concur with the logic.



So I was surprised by Alasdair Reid’s Spotlight on the Mirror (Campaign,

last week). Reid has never found it easy to write much that is good

about the Mirror, but last week he got it horribly wrong.



The sales figures he quotes suggest an increase in sales for the week

ending 4 January for the Mirror - the period that covers Christmas and

New Year sales. If he had checked, he would have found the sales inflate

and then fall for all titles due to the ABC exclusion days. Daily Mail

sales fell by 24 per cent from a figure of 2.823 million to 2.148

million, compared with its January ABC figure.



At 4.4 per cent, the Mirror’s January sales were up by more than 100,000

copies on the previous month, the largest lift of any title in the

popular market. Yes, we were down year on year due to a combination of

events that boosted sales for all tabloids in 1996: among them the

closure of Today and two lottery rollovers.



As for our rejuvenation programme, the strategy is a two-year programme

and we will be judged on our longer-term results, not on one or three

months. We have a marketing plan that will unfold in the weeks and

months ahead. This month, as Campaign reported last week, we have

started theme advertising which is part of our plan to change long-held

perceptions of the Mirror among certain age groups.



Like any brand, we track the effectiveness of this and all forms of our

marketing spend and adjust accordingly, thereby (returning to the

analogy of the oil tanker) ensuring that we are on course to move

forward and turn the corner.



Regarding the Sun give-away, paid for by Camelot on 5 February, we were

delighted to sell an extra 350,000 copies on that Wednesday and all our

advertisers benefited on that day.



I am also pleased to say that the Sun give-away did nothing to damage

our sales on the following days. We believe the give-away was an own

goal for the Sun if all it gained from it was pounds 1 million from that

nice Mr Rigg at Camelot. In contrast, Pepsi paid us pounds 1 million and

we sold extra copies on the day at full price.



Having spoken to Colin Gottlieb, whom you quoted last week, I am

delighted he concurs that the editor, Piers Morgan, is a major driver of

the new Mirror, but I am equally pleased that he confirms he was quoted

out of context and that I and my co-directors also have some audacity

and effrontery.



We would like the industry to judge our performance over time. In the

context of marketing the Mirror, we certainly should have taken this

approach earlier but Mirror Group went through some difficult times in

the early 90s which are now all in our wake.



Priscilla Rogan of WCRS makes a point about cover prices. I agree it is

a tough marketing issue to sell against a cheaper brand, which is only

at that price courtesy of Rupert Murdoch’s wider financial wealth, to

say nothing of his sole marketing strategy of price cutting to buy

market share.



It is a pity his managers at Wapping are not prepared to have a straight

fight on a level playing field like that of the Mail and Express, but

perhaps they feel the need to be subsidised.



Our objective is to be smarter, regardless of price, and to push the

Mirror forward, and we are quietly confident. However, judge us over

time and allow us to plot the course.



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