A deal pairing the British royal family and the British Armed Forces with The Sun could be the stuff of publicists' wildest fantasies.
Yet it happened last week with the launch of The Sun Military Awards (The Millies), which have the fulsome personal endorsement of Prince Charles.
Against a half-page picture of himself in full military regalia, the newspaper published the prince's 500-word first-person endorsement beginning: 'I am delighted and proud to lend my support to The Sun's Military Awards ...' The prince also recounted his parental pride and anxiety at Harry's time in Afghanistan and William's military service.
Presumably the PR deal-makers on both sides must have minutely calculated the likely benefits to their respective 'brands'. For The Sun, it is a no-brainer. Its gongs will generate mass televised publicity and drive sales among the Armed Forces' millions of supporters. It will also create a priceless flow of exclusive headlines and pictures of front line bravery as well as special relationships with royals and the military.
For the media brokers working for the princes and the MoD, the calculations must have been more complex. Presumably they believe the deal will bring a long-term favourable Sun spotlight on their clients, leading, in turn, to higher public approval ratings.
The MoD almost certainly got its calculations correct. But did the royals? Just how much exclusive goodwill might the paper expect for its plugging of Charles, William and Harry?
Interestingly, The Sun's splash story on the day it announced The Millies featured royalty. 'Sexy Kate And Wills snaps stolen' told how a plot to sell them to The Sun was smashed by the paper turning in the vendor to the police. On another day the red top would have paid the £50,000 price, published the pictures and sold a pile of extra copies. On this historic day it played the role of law-abiding informer. Another favour owed on an intriguing PR balance sheet?
- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.