Thursday, July 07, 2011

It’s the brand stupid

When the news broke, on Twitter inevitably, that the “News of the World” was to close there was a mighty gnashing of teeth and no little wailing form the journalist community. Job losses. Innocent victims. That sort of thing. But actually it’s no big deal. Here’s why.

When a brand is damaged beyond repair, but there is a market position to defend, then rebranding is the obvious choice. At the moment BP is rebranding many of its gas stations in the US “Amoco” and the reasons for that are obvious. For News International its the same. They have a very strong brand in “The Sun” which has a circulation of 3million –nearly one million ahead of its next competitor. Their fatally wounded “News of the World” brand is similarly strong in circulation terms 2.7m and a lead of over 800,000. There is no way that NI is going to give up that inco0me stream – and they don't need to.

The introduction of a “Sunday Sun” (or “Sun on Sunday” ) has huge benefits. The toxic News of the World brand is shed. The Sun brand can extend seamlessly into a seven day operation. There will be some economic savings. And online they can concentrate on one Sun branded website for all their communications.

One can expect that those Sun readers who don't currently buy the NOW will be heavily incentivised to switch their Sunday paper to The Sunday Sun. Or in some cases to buy a Sunday paper where currently they don't. Cross promotions will be the order of the day – NI has the financial resources to really build the Sunday Sun as a successful sub-brand of the generic Sun brand.

The people who should worry about  Mr Murdoch’s clever coup are the publishers of NI’s competitors! A seven day Sun will be formidable.  

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