Changing pawceptions of the Daily Star
A view from Shane Davison

Changing pawceptions of the Daily Star

The Star's humorous tone hides the fact it reaches a distinct audience that advertisers ought to understand.

Everything we do at Reach, the UK’s largest commercial news publisher, is grounded in audience insight. That’s why the Daily Star – which aims to be the nation’s most fun-loving newspaper – is today becoming the nation’s most fun-loving news-paw-per with the launch of the “Star paws takeover” across print and online editions.

It’s an ambitious marketing and editorial initiative in partnership with pet charity Blue Cross to highlight the plight of dogs abandoned during the pandemic. We’re hoping to raise vital funds for a nationally cherished charity in another sector ravaged by Covid-19.

As my colleague Andrew Tenzer recently highlighted in the Reach white paper The Aspiration Window, the media industry is a business lacking diversity, and it’s precisely this social-class bias that creates presumptions about mainstream audiences and their passion points, leading to a disconnect between advertisers and consumers.

Snobs need to get a grip, cast aside any preconceptions and truly understand the audience. Trusted news titles are placed to best serve their clients and consumer brands.

The Star’s editorial and marketing teams know their audience well. The data tells us that, of all our titles, Star print readers are the highest proportion in work. And they love pets. The Star Paws column edited by Catherine Wooding featuring animals resonates massively with our readers.

The Star audience is twice as likely as the national average to own a dog or cat, and one in five readers also donate regularly to animal charities – which may surprise the industry, but not us at Reach. So the decision to partner a brand aligned with one of our audience’s strongest passion points is a no-brainer.

Over the next seven weeks, readers can submit pictures of their dogs, which will be shortlisted by a team including Blue Cross to feature in a 2021 calendar. Our audience will then decide which 12 dogs become national calendar stars, with one lucky dog and its owners winning a dog-friendly holiday with our commercial partner Away Resorts. The campaign is fun and engaging. Who doesn’t like seeing cute pictures of dogs?  

Amplifying the campaign message over the coming weeks is essential, both through collaborating with a fantastic brand such as Blue Cross and a range of celebrities including Bill Bailey (pictured, top) and Michaela Strachan (above), who are endorsing the initiative. 

Our amazing editorial team have been turning heads recently with captivating front pages such as the infamous Dominic Cummings “Do whatever the hell you want and sod everybody else mask”. But today, along with Blue Cross, celebrity supporters and guest editor Charlie the Labrador, the Star and the whole Reach team are leaping into action with a focus on the plight of dogs that will resonate with almost 13 million people across print and online editions this month alone. 

Shane Davison is marketing director for nationals at Reach