MEDIA: SPOTLIGHT ON; NEWS INTERNATIONAL IN SCOTLAND: Are there Scottish readers for News International to claim?

The News of the World and the Sun are measuring up Scotland.

The News of the World and the Sun are measuring up Scotland.

Can the Sun and the News of the World make further progress in Scotland?

News International obviously believes that they can - and last week it

revealed plans to appoint a local agency to work alongside the titles’

London shop, Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow and Johnson, to give added

impetus to marketing efforts north of the border (Campaign, 12 April).

The Sun’s steady progress in Scotland has been a great mystery to many.

According to conventional wisdom, tabloid-buying Scots are red-in-tooth-

and-claw Old Labour and have been totally impervious to the ‘Basildon

factor’ - a shift to the right among the English working classes that

coincided with the rise of the Sun.

And then there’s the other old chestnut - the Scotland of austere,

pinched morality, the Scotland where even the Catholics are Presbyterian

when it comes to page-three pin-ups. The Scots don’t like fun

newspapers, that’s why they read the Daily Record. It’s the Daily Mirror

in a time warp, a paper many people still miss - a sincere,

compassionate, campaigning newspaper.

With a daily sale in Scotland of just under 700,000 (its UK sale is

higher, due to its popularity in the north of England), the Record is

read by a spectacular 47 per cent of Scotland’s four million plus

population. Unassailable? News International has never thought so. When

it introduced a truly Scottish edition in the late 80s, the Sun’s

circulation began to take off. Two years ago it hit on a winning


One day it was running editorials attacking the very idea of devolution,

the next it had a front page resplendent with saltires, rampant lions

and awash with nationalist fervour. A spectacular conversion - but not

as cynical as some have made out. Nationalism sits quite happily

alongside the Little Englander mentality that the paper has reflected

south of the border.

The Sun is bought by 370,000 in Scotland - roughly the same proportion

of the population that buys it south of the border - and an increase of

70,000 in five years. It has strengthened its management in Scotland and

has plans to offer more Scottish pagination to both readers and


Can it really hope to make further headway in Scotland? Colin

McClatchie, the general manager of News International’s Scottish

operation, is confident that he can continue to steal readers from the

Record. ‘Up here it’s different from the UK in that there is more

potential cross-over between the likes of the Sun and the Daily Express.

The Record is obviously the target though and it is clearly in decline.

We have a powerful formula and we are about to deliver a stronger


The Sun already outsells the Record in some areas, but can it take it on

in the Record’s western Strathclyde heartland? Christine Tulloch, the

media director of Faulds Advertising, is positive about the Sun’s

prospects. ‘There is little concrete evidence to substantiate this view,

but I feel that the Record could be vulnerable. It has been top dog for

more than a decade but I think it lost its way a bit - its last branding

campaign was a mistake. I think it went over the heads of its potential


Tulloch argues that Scotland’s political shift towards nationalism has

suited the Sun and perhaps, as a result, the Record has begun to look

tired. The problem that the Sun faces is that its circulation has

levelled off and it hasn’t been able to push through the 400,000 mark.

‘The current management in Glasgow know the Scottish market back to

front and it’s clear that News International in Wapping is committed to

moving things on again,’ Tulloch states. ‘It will never see the huge

circulation increases of ten years ago, but a new marketing perspective

on the Sun could keep pushing it forward.’