Superbrands case studies: The Times

Originally published in Consumer Superbrands Volume VI, July 2004. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent judging panel.

Case study provided by Superbrands.

The UK newspaper market is the most competitive market in the world, with 37 million people reading a national paper each week and one in two adults reading a paper every day.

Over the last five years the pace of change in information provision has continued to move at a breakneck speed due to the proliferation of satellite TV channels, radio stations and the internet.

In spite of the crowded marketplace quality newspapers have continued to build their reputation as credible sources of information. This reputation has been nurtured and nourished over hundreds of years and the editorial integrity of the newspaper is entwined with the brand.

This marketplace has created a unique opportunity for the broadsheets. Presented with so much choice consumers often don't know who to trust for information and they turn to brands that they trust. This means that quality newspapers hold a valued position in the media market today as "the" leading credible source of news.

But with opportunity emerges challenges and, for one of the oldest forms of medium, newspapers have been very adept at moving with the times.

The aim of The Times is to be the best newspaper in the world. The goal is to deliver accurate, intelligent and engaging information to an ever larger, ever more discerning audience. The Times has had a traditional role as a journal of record since its establishment in the 18th century. As the delivery of information has changed so the role of the journal of record has evolved.

The role of The Times has evolved not only in response to increased media channels but also in tune with reader attitudes and behaviour. Historically a quality newspaper was seen as a serious informer, commentator, advertiser and campaigner and consumer demand now asks that they also entertain, by providing lifestyle opinions and by fuelling the passions of their readers, be they sport, entertainment, or health and fitness.

A paper must also reflect the changing pace of life and the fact that more and more people are on the move. It is this understanding of people's lives today which led The Times and The Independent to revolutionise the newspaper industry by launching compact versions of the paper in 2003.

2003 was one of the most significant years in the history of The Times. From November 26 2003, readers could choose from not just one but two different formats of The Times -- broadsheet and 'compact'. The compact was born out of the recognition that with longer working hours, extensive commuting habits and many media sources there was a need for quality news in a convenient size.

Initially, the compact launched in London with a TV and poster campaign targeting the busy professional on the move. The campaign idea was rooted in a consumer truth, the commuter experience of trying to read a broadsheet on a busy train in rush hour. The advertising idea was a demonstration of this in all its awkward and antisocial detail.

The 30 second execution showed the frustration of commuters struggling to read their broadsheets and the irritation felt by fellow passengers with every turn of every page. The campaign stressed the benefits of the new compact by illustrating how inconvenient the alternative can be. All communication was united by the campaign endline, 'It's not big but it is clever.'

After a very successful London launch the compact was rolled out to other regions in the UK. In addition to communicating the benefits of its smaller size, above-the-line advertising has also been used to reassure broadsheet readers that a reduction in size does not mean a reduction in quality.

If readers are still unconvinced by the benefits of a smaller paper, The Times remains committed to producing both a broadsheet and a compact version so they can choose their preferred format.

The compact revolution has helped drive the newspaper industry forward into the 21st century, by deconstructing the old 'broadsheet/tabloid' model and recognising that quality writing is not determined by format.

The Times has been at the forefront of this movement, and this vision has been rewarded by a significant growth in circulation and in readership. The Times has enjoyed substantial circulation increase since the launch, with real sales growth in an otherwise declining market.

Furthermore The Times has attracted an enviable number of upmarket and affluent young readers. Of all the national quality dailies, The Times has the highest number of ABC1 and AB readers under 35. Furthermore, since 1992 The Times has increased its daily sale from 390,000 to around 674,000, raising its overall readership by 61% to 1.9 million.

The success of the compact has not only been restricted to sales and readership. According to research brand perceptions of The Times as a dynamic, contemporary and progressive newspaper have also increased. In addition to pioneering change in the newspaper industry 2003 has seen The Times and its journalists collect numerous awards, most recently Gill Morgan was named Magazine Editor of the Year, Anne Spackman Property Writer of the Year, Robert Crampton Interviewer of the Year, Carol Midgely Feature Writer of the Year and The Times was named as the UK's best financial newspaper by the prestigious Wincott Awards.

Communication accolades include a Silver at Creative Circle, Bronze at BTAA and an Epica award for 'Director', The Times' London Film Festival advertisement. 'Bottle' and 'Banana' both won Silver Lions at Cannes, and The Times won the Hollis award for the most effective use of sponsorship for Channel Four cricket activity.

The Times has been at the forefront of journalism since it was founded in 1785. One of the world's oldest surviving daily newspapers, The Times quickly gained the reputation as a hard-hitting newspaper, and after an article in 1830, acquired the nickname 'The Thunderer', by which it is still known today.

However, between 1908 and 1926 its position was under threat due to spiralling costs and strike action during the General Strike. Lord Thomson first brought the two different titles, The Times and Sunday Times, together in 1966. By 1981, both The Times and Sunday Times were sold to News International. It was in 1986, with a new state-of the-art printing works built in Wapping, that News International took the significant steps that would change the newspaper industry forever. Other newspaper companies soon followed News International by moving out of Fleet Street. Continuous change and production innovation have been at the heart of The Times since it was first founded and right up to the present day.

The Times newspaper has always been regarded as the quality 'quality'. It is one of the world's most recognisable, trusted and respected newspapers. The Times breaks more news stories than any other newspaper, is the number one paper for business, enjoying 49% more business readers than The FT (Source: British Business Survey 2003) and has more sports coverage than any other daily newspaper.

Over the last two years The Times' commitment to sport has developed significantly with an all star line-up of writers from across the sporting spectrum.

The Times was the first paper to launch the sports handbook, and now produces eight each year covering football, rugby, formula one, golf, tennis and athletics.

In 2002, it launched The Game on Mondays, the only dedicated football supplement in the quality market.

Furthermore, The Times has embarked on a series of sponsorship activities to support its commitment to sport. As the Official Newspaper of English Rugby, The Times supported England's World Cup campaign with bespoke publishing activity and a wealth of in paper content, such as Jonny Wilkinson's Guide to Kicking. The Times also sponsor the largest daily sports programme in the UK, Good Morning Sports Fans.

Other Times sponsorship activity includes Sky Business news and The Times bfi London Film Festival for which the newspaper is the lead sponsor. The Times also has a strong portfolio of dedicated sections throughout the week. 2003 saw the launch of Public Agenda on Tuesdays, a section dedicated to reporting the highlights from the public sector.

Screen on Thursdays, a stand-alone film section, which carries the latest film reviews, industry news and gossip. On Friday, Bricks and Mortar presents the latest facts, figures and fantasies from the world of property. Also new in 2003 was the relaunched Saturday Times which included four new sections,

The Knowledge, a weekly insider's guide to life in London, The Eye, a guide to what's on the big and small screens, Weekend Review, the intelligent read for high and low brow culture, and Body & Soul, a supplement dedicated to health and well-being. Body & Soul is the only section of its kind in the UK newspaper market.

As well as outstanding editorial content, the paper is committed to dynamic design -- The Times now has the most ambitiously designed sections of any newspaper in the world, and it has a strength in design, graphics and photography that is unmatched by any of its competitors. As paper of record, The Times is famous for the Obituaries, Court and Social, Birthdays and Anniversaries, and the Debate section -- all of which are under the title of The Register. Furthermore, The Times would not be The Times without its challenging crossword, the Letters to the Editor and the Comment section.

Recent Developments
The most significant recent development at The Times has been the launch of the compact Times. Reader response has been overwhelmingly positive and the new format has introduced many new readers to The Times. New readers are attracted by the format and captivated by the content. However, the launch of the compact is just the start in the next phase of the ongoing evolution of The Times as it continues to deliver an exciting, engaging, accessible and confident product for its readers.

The Times promotional strategy is to work closely with branding activity to reinforce the values of the product. As the brand campaign continues to focus on re-appraisal through key editorial areas such as sport, entertainment and health and well-being so too will the promotions.

The Times promotional activity has traditionally been communicated through a combination of TV and radio advertising which ensures targeting of a specific audience on the evening prior to a promotion and on the morning or day of a promotion itself. Broadcast activity is supported by pre-promotional and promotional in paper activity in The Times and The Sunday Times. The majority of The Times promotions continue to use a seven day token collect mechanic which draw readers through from Monday to Sunday.

A second element to The Times promotional strategy is developing and fostering alliances with appropriate partners. 2004 has seen the compact sold exclusively in over 300 Starbucks stores and promoted heavily in WHSmith Travel outlets. In 1996 The Times launched the first major sales promotion of any quality newspaper when it joined forces with Eurostar. This partnership is going from strength to strength as it moves into its eighth year.

At the time of going to press the new communications campaign for The Times was in development.

Brand Values
The Times has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the world's leading newspaper brands. At the heart of the brand lies the paper's objectivity and integrity.

The Times is renowned for delivering coverage of the issues of the day that is fair, honest and objective. Its commitment to providing readers with a breadth of opinions and perspectives ensures the newspaper maintains the reader's trust and respect. Furthermore, the provision of this breadth of opinion and analysis is driven by the brand's aim to equip the reader with essential, engaging and enjoyable news, comment and analysis. This goal is fundamental to the paper's values and one of the principal reasons why The Times today continues to command the reputation as 'the definitive quality.'

Alongside these guiding values the paper's passion for each subject matter is ever evident. This promises not only an informed read, but also one that also absorbs, entertains and stimulates readers.

As the newspaper market continues to evolve, these values will continue to shape The Times' celebrated reputation and will ensure that the paper remains the powerful brand it is today.

Things you didn't know about The Times
First newspaper ever to use the title' The Times' when it changed its name from the 'Daily Universal Register' to 'The Times' on January 1st 1788.

On October 3rd 1932 the first typeface (Times New Roman) specifically designed for use by a newspaper was launched and became the most successful in history.

In October 1976 The Times became the first major newspaper in the world to be printed on paper produced by Thermal Mechanical Pulp (TMP), a method which saved 25% in the new wood content of paper -- a conservation landmark.

Over one year, The Times prints 2.2 million miles of newspaper -- enough to go to the Moon and back over four times -- and of which over two-thirds is recycled paper.

In 1971, The Times was the first newspaper ever to show a nude photograph -- a naked lady, in full colour for an advert -- which caused some controversy.

(c) 2004 Superbrands Ltd


You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now

Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now