When Hong Kong’s Oriental Press Group announced it was to launch a
Chinese-language daily newspaper, The Sun, which would be ’a paper of
vitality, intelligence and vision’, a few eyebrows were raised.
After all, Hong Kong is not known for the integrity of its press, with
Chinese-language broadsheets regularly splashing gruesome photographs of
severed human heads on their front pages.
Could The Sun break the mould - and be financially viable?
Since its launch on 18 March, OPG’s HKdollars 2 billion (pounds 160.3
million) gamble appears to have paid off. The Sun has shot into third
position, claiming a readership of more than one million, three times
that of the fourth largest title, Sing Pao. The Oriental Daily News
(also published by OPG) and Apple Daily dominate the scene with daily
average circulations of 650,000 and 400,000 copies respectively.
The Sun says its target market is 15- to 45-year-olds, ’skewed towards
the elite group, the new generation of dynamic and aggressive young
executives of both sexes’. It claims to have an unbiased, factual and
bold editorial policy - borne out by a survey by Omnicom’s Optimum Media
Direction and AC Nielsen, which found that The Sun was rated more highly
than Apple Daily in terms of ’objective, unbiased news coverage’.
An ad budget of HKdollars 20 million (pounds 1.6 million) was allocated
to the launch, which produced a trial rate of 69 per cent. However, the
survey suggests that The Sun is cannibalising its sister paper, ODN,
rather than recruiting readers from its rival, Apple Daily, as was
While 29 per cent of readers would buy three or more copies a week at
the introductory price of HKdollars 2 (16p), this fell to 11 per cent at
the standard HKdollars 5 (40p).
Advertisers in The Sun are mainly from the property, travel and
restaurant sectors. While The Sun boasts ’the lowest ad rates in Hong
Kong’, OMD cautions that this will lead to a ’price squeeze’ and media
planners need to stay on their toes.
The Sun facts and figures
Ad rates for 1999,based on rate base of 200,000
Full page colour HKdollars 80,000 (pounds 6,410)
Full page mono HKdollars 40,000 (pounds 3,205)
Publisher Oriental Press Group