Richard Cook casts an eye over Rubython’s baby and wonders if it has a
It hasn’t been an easy birth, but, after more than one false alarm, Tom
Rubython’s business newspaper finally launched this week.
The paper, with five sections and 120 pages instead of the mooted six
sections and 200 pages, launched while facing the prospect of at least
three separate injunctions and with a substitute advertising team in the
form of Knight Leach Delaney and John Ayling and Associates. Arc
Advertising, which was originally understood to have been handling the
pounds 3 million launch, parted company with the title at the 11th hour.
But it launched, against the predictions of many and apparently boosted
by the last-minute support of the controversial former radio tycoon,
Sunday Business needs to sell a relatively modest 150,000 copies a week
to break even on a cover price of 85p. It has been positioned as a
supplement to, rather than a replacement for, the existing quality
That’s probably just as well.
According to pre-launch research by CIA Medianetwork, nine out of ten
respondents would be unlikely to read a Sunday newspaper that focused
entirely on business.
David Warden, the chairman of McCann-Erickson, commented: ‘Obviously, we
must allow any new paper a couple of weeks to find its feet but, on the
available evidence, Sunday Business is going to have to do a hell of a
lot of evolving if it is to compete with the Sunday Times and the
Observer. They are the ones providing an objective view of business,
with all the proper context.
‘The main section of the paper was quite good, but the fact is that
business stories outside of the occasional merger or takeover are not
really big stories. The features tried to make businessmen into
personalities, like movie stars, and were just awful. A fat 50-year-old
workaholic is not, at the end of the day, probably going to be that
interesting,’ he adds.
Richard Britton, the head of press at CIA, agrees that the paper’s main
section is where its strength lies: ‘The news was quite good, even if
the stories seemed quite political in tone and the presentation was a
little too bitty for my taste. There was a feeling that the paper was a
little short on analysis. I can see that it would be a pretty dull read
for many, and I’m sure it would be better if it complemented the
business coverage with something like sport just to lighten the package.
We put a couple of ads in the magazine, which looked to have a lot of
potential, even if the choice of people seemed a little dull.’
Tim McCloskey, the head of press at BMP DDB, is more upbeat about the
paper’s debut. ‘I definitely felt that it represented good value and
passed the acid test in that I suspect you would not feel happy had you
missed it. There were media and advertising stories that I felt I should
know about that the other papers didn’t cover - one about BSkyB and one
about the Irish Independent. Having said that, it is clear that the
main news section is everything. The review was just dull. The Trading
Week section made the Economist look sexy, and the personal finance
section was a little disappointing,’ he said.
Michael Conroy, the group chairman of Publicis/Foote Cone Belding, was,
on balance, pleasantly surprised: ‘It wasn’t at all bad as a business
newspaper and, in some ways, better than supplements like the Sunday
Times business section. But there was nothing particularly good about
it, nor was there enough depth in the material covered. It was
personality driven, which I didn’t mind, and was positioned as a sort of
Mail on Sunday/Sunday Times hybrid. Whether there is a market for that,
I don’t know, but overall it was a decent attempt at a general business