MEDIA: Nationals look to high street links to regain lost readers

National newspapers, in common with television channels, funnel great energy and resources into their autumn packages. The broadsheets traditionally opt for a juicy exclusive book serialisation to woo summer deserters: the Telegraph has taken the middle-aged route with Michael Holroyd’s autobiography this year, while the Guardian, playing to its strengths, has feminist Susan Faludi’s latest thoughts on ’hope for modern men’.

National newspapers, in common with television channels, funnel

great energy and resources into their autumn packages. The broadsheets

traditionally opt for a juicy exclusive book serialisation to woo summer

deserters: the Telegraph has taken the middle-aged route with Michael

Holroyd’s autobiography this year, while the Guardian, playing to its

strengths, has feminist Susan Faludi’s latest thoughts on ’hope for

modern men’.



But the leader of the pack in breaking new ground this September has to

be the Sun, with its clubcard deal with Tesco, offering ’free points

worth pounds 2 off your shopping’. Even allowing for the excitable hype,

there is a smart proposal and huge investment at its core.



The UK’s bestselling paper has struck a high profile alliance with the

country’s largest supermarket chain, famed for competitiveness,

marketing and value for money. The deal, backed by heavy TV promotion,

ensures Tesco’s name is blazed across the paper’s front page day after

day, with acres of promotion inside. But it is also highly appealing to

that elusive group - women newspaper purchasers - who do the bulk of

household buying, too.



It is becoming increasingly important for papers to build partnerships

with high street brands, provided they fit the right image. On this

count, the Sun’s deal with Tesco is perfect. The project to modernise

the Sun has taken many forms in the last 18 months, from more tasteful

page three shots, shorn of leering captions (I recently heard a

distinguished Guardian columnist complimenting editor David Yelland on

the transformation), to the launch of its free internet server,

currantbun, and related promotion of the internet.



The Tesco link also sits neatly with this year’s extended promotion of

Books for Schools, which involved an astonishing nine out of ten UK

schools, and went some way to taking the blokeish edge off the Sun’s

brand,



The Daily Mail, which trotted out its Lucky Wallets scheme for a second

outing last weekend, is already countering with a ’20 per cent off

shopping at House of Fraser Stores’ daycard, and I’m sure the links

offering special deals will go on developing. Only this week, the Mirror

was advertising its new deal with Sainsbury’s clubcards on TV. If I had

to draw up a fantasy list, I’d match Marks and Spencer with the Mail,

Ladbrokes with the Star, and the Financial Times with The Conran Shop.

The Guardian is a bit more tricky, but John Lewis might work, with

Virgin Megastores for G2 readers.



The crucial thing, which worries me, is that none of these alliances

affect editorial coverage. But at a time when extending your brand via

the internet is all the rage, it makes me smile to think that real money

is going into schemes which, for all their marketing whizz, force you to

wield the scissors and cut out paper tokens.



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