A previous editor of the Mirror told me how newspapers were like
oil tankers - to turn the corner you have to plot the course a long way
ahead and constantly check your co-ordinates.
I regard this as good advice and I think many newspaper editors and
marketing men would concur with the logic.
So I was surprised by Alasdair Reid’s Spotlight on the Mirror (Campaign,
last week). Reid has never found it easy to write much that is good
about the Mirror, but last week he got it horribly wrong.
The sales figures he quotes suggest an increase in sales for the week
ending 4 January for the Mirror - the period that covers Christmas and
New Year sales. If he had checked, he would have found the sales inflate
and then fall for all titles due to the ABC exclusion days. Daily Mail
sales fell by 24 per cent from a figure of 2.823 million to 2.148
million, compared with its January ABC figure.
At 4.4 per cent, the Mirror’s January sales were up by more than 100,000
copies on the previous month, the largest lift of any title in the
popular market. Yes, we were down year on year due to a combination of
events that boosted sales for all tabloids in 1996: among them the
closure of Today and two lottery rollovers.
As for our rejuvenation programme, the strategy is a two-year programme
and we will be judged on our longer-term results, not on one or three
months. We have a marketing plan that will unfold in the weeks and
months ahead. This month, as Campaign reported last week, we have
started theme advertising which is part of our plan to change long-held
perceptions of the Mirror among certain age groups.
Like any brand, we track the effectiveness of this and all forms of our
marketing spend and adjust accordingly, thereby (returning to the
analogy of the oil tanker) ensuring that we are on course to move
forward and turn the corner.
Regarding the Sun give-away, paid for by Camelot on 5 February, we were
delighted to sell an extra 350,000 copies on that Wednesday and all our
advertisers benefited on that day.
I am also pleased to say that the Sun give-away did nothing to damage
our sales on the following days. We believe the give-away was an own
goal for the Sun if all it gained from it was pounds 1 million from that
nice Mr Rigg at Camelot. In contrast, Pepsi paid us pounds 1 million and
we sold extra copies on the day at full price.
Having spoken to Colin Gottlieb, whom you quoted last week, I am
delighted he concurs that the editor, Piers Morgan, is a major driver of
the new Mirror, but I am equally pleased that he confirms he was quoted
out of context and that I and my co-directors also have some audacity
We would like the industry to judge our performance over time. In the
context of marketing the Mirror, we certainly should have taken this
approach earlier but Mirror Group went through some difficult times in
the early 90s which are now all in our wake.
Priscilla Rogan of WCRS makes a point about cover prices. I agree it is
a tough marketing issue to sell against a cheaper brand, which is only
at that price courtesy of Rupert Murdoch’s wider financial wealth, to
say nothing of his sole marketing strategy of price cutting to buy
It is a pity his managers at Wapping are not prepared to have a straight
fight on a level playing field like that of the Mail and Express, but
perhaps they feel the need to be subsidised.
Our objective is to be smarter, regardless of price, and to push the
Mirror forward, and we are quietly confident. However, judge us over
time and allow us to plot the course.