THE SUNDAY TIMES: An Expert's View

Mark Gallagher applauds The Sunday Times' revamp but still cannot read all of it by Monday.

t more sections! I can't get through half of the bloody thing as it is. A bigger package means more guilt in terms of the amount of unread newsprint carpeting my sitting room, then lining the bin come Sunday night.

I'm just not one of those people who can continue to read a paper after its publication day. I think it has something to do with a short attention span and concern that I'm missing new news by neglecting Monday's papers for a cutting, but invariably spot-on, article from AA Gill.

However, I guess my reading behaviour is probably not that of the archetypal Sunday Times reader, who will, no doubt, understand many - if not all - of the big words while getting through "the monster" with nonchalant ease.

If RKCR/Y&R developed its recent campaign to challenge people like me, it would have adopted an approach more akin to Shredded Wheat ("can you manage more than three sections?") as opposed to the gratuitous use of nudity in the new TV commercials aired last Thursday. A slightly out-of-focus naked woman pads down the stairs to retrieve the monster from the front door step, before taking it back upstairs to the chiselled-faced partner and slipping back between the covers before any more of her is revealed.

I digress. The Sunday Times is a successful brand - reflected in its circulation and readership growth in recent years. Hurray for the cover price going up - newspapers have been undervalued for years through cost-cutting but let's not forget who started that.

If the 20p increase does not dent the circulation numbers (which I suspect it will not) Mr Murdoch should have around £225,000 extra per week in his pocket, based on full-rate sales - a mere drop in the ocean compared with the losses on The Sun, of course.

I'd speculate that much of that revenue will be eaten up in production costs for the new Style magazine, which has benefited from a glossy makeover and resizing, Driving and the 32-page sport supplement, packed with celebrity columnists. Style certainly lives up to its name. The new compact size and glossy feel gives it a half-way-to-a-monthly appearance and oozes credibility by the inclusion of the likes of Tom Ford. It has also dedicated more space to beauty, while keeping popular regulars such as Table Talk.

Driving looks good but it remains to be seen if it attracts big brand advertising (one of its objectives) away from the relative "safety" of main news.

All in all the new package reaffirms the positioning of The Sunday Times as "the Sunday Papers" ... as well as being half a tree.

Mark Gallagher, the head of press at Manning Gottlieb OMD, can identify with the scenarios in the new Sunday Times ad following his recent marriage.

Publisher: News International

Frequency: Every Sunday

Circulation: 1,344,827

Full-page colour ad rate: £79,920 (main news section)

Advertisers include Orange, Mercedes, Nokie, Citroen, AMP, Prudential

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