Relations between The Independent and its creative agencies have
always been rather fraught compared with other broadsheets.
But last week the newspaper took on Walsh Trott Chick Smith, an agency
that has proved, with its work for Channel 5, that it is not averse to
dealing with demanding but niche media brands facing stiff competition.
Perhaps this relationship is the solution the paper needs.
Trish Wadley, the marketing director of The Independent and The
Independent on Sunday, is confident that this time the newspaper has got
all its ducks in a row. Since her arrival in October, she has wasted no
time in changing the newspapers' agency relationships. At the end of
last year, she replaced Zenith Media with Manning Gottlieb Media; last
month she put a new PR company in place and now there's the appointment
of Walsh Trott after a split with Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, which had held
the account for two years.
'A clear creative thread was lacking in everything The Independent did
in terms of its advertising and promotions. It has to reflect the values
of the newspaper,' Wadley explains. 'We've had fantastic advertising in
the past, but it was not always necessarily linked together. Our
confident voice has to be consistent.'
Talking to Wadley is like climbing on an express train. The gravelly
voice with its Australian twang is strident and energetic and there's
rarely a pause for breath. She leaves the impression that she won't rest
until she's got exactly what she wants. Such steel is probably a good
thing when you are trying to market a newspaper, one that is regarded as
a bit of an underdog, on a budget of pounds 3 million.
Stephen Miron, the commercial director of Independent Newspapers,
observes: 'She's very tough and determined. Since she's been here, she's
been challenging all of us. She doesn't take 'no' for an answer and is
prepared to rock the boat and not go for the easy option.' Matt James,
the managing director of Manning Gottlieb, adds: 'Trish's background has
made her very open to ideas and creative-led solutions. She's very broad
minded in terms of any approach The Independent needs to take with its
He points to last year's Interflora promotion as an example of her
She persuaded the company to sponsor the paper's Elton John CD promotion
during the high-profile court case that revealed the popstar's expensive
Wadley wants the newspapers' marketing to be focused on promotional
activity that will deliver a clear brand message. 'People are incredible
creatures of habit. One of the hardest things is telling people to stop
what they do with their eyes closed every morning and change. We have a
huge number of occasional readers for The Independent, and we want to up
that. The average person hasn't been given a compelling reason why the
newspaper is relevant to them.'
The Independent has chalked up a fairly respectable increase in sales
after a blip in December. In February, sales of The Independent were up
1.4 per cent month on month, with its year-on-year six-monthly average
sales up 2.4 per cent. With Tony O'Reilly as the proprietor and Simon
Kelner as the editor, the paper has enjoyed a period of stability. It
appears to be in better fetter than it was as part of Mirror Group,
although it it is still the smallest national broadsheet, with a
circulation of 223,958.
But while Wadley has healthy ambitions for circulation growth, she is
cautious about fixing her sights too high too soon. '300,000 in one year
is probably overly ambitious, but I do believe The Independent has an
enormous amount of growth in it,' she says.
Wadley may be a new face in the UK media industry, but she's a seasoned
media operator. She cut her teeth in broadcast journalism before moving
on to market Rupert Murdoch's tabloid papers in Australia, as well as
launching the country's first cable TV company, Foxtel. But News Corp
was a very different scene to the one she is in now. 'Oh God!' she
'It was a three-newspaper industry.'
Her only time away from consumer media was when she took on the post of
director of marketing and communications for Thomson Financial in
'I felt I had to do something very different. It was essentially a media
company, but it was a financial media company, and it was my first
non-consumer job, which was the biggest change for me.'
Wadley admits that, for her, newspapers aren't 'the be all and end all'
and asserts: 'If someone came up to me with a proposition, I'd consider
THE WADLEY FILE
1990: B105FM, marketing director
1992: News Limited Australia, sales promotions manager rising to
1995: Foxtel Sydney, national marketing manager
1998: Media consultant in London/New York
1999: Thomson Financial, director of marketing and communications for
2000: The Independent and IOS, marketing director.