The Planet on Sunday, a new tabloid focusing on environmental issues, is
launching on 16 June, only eight weeks after Tom Rubython’s broadsheet
Sunday Business came on the market.
The news of the launch in coincides with the release of ABC newspaper
sales figures which shows a year-on-year decline in sales for all Sunday
papers except for the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times.
The 48-page newspaper, which is backed by Clifford Hards, the owner of
Birmingham-based travel company New Millenium Holidays and Travel, will
have an initial print run of around 500,000 with hoped for settle-down
sales of 250,000.
The Planet’s editor Austin Mitchelson, who was the launch director of
David Sullivans’ Sunday Sport in 1986, says the Planet will target the
Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express’ younger readers aged 25 and over and
is designed to be a second read newspaper.
Mitchelson isn’t specificabout the demographic profile of the Planet’s
potential readers preferring ‘not to pin it down until we come out’.
Unlike its rivals, the Birmingham-based Planet on Sunday will not carry
the colour magazines or supplements, which have become synonymous with
Sunday papers. Furthermore, the all crucial cover price has not been
set, although Mitchelson expects it to be around 65 pence.
It is still undecided whether advertising sales will be handled in-
house or how eco-friendly advertisers will have to be. Cigarette ads,
however, will not be carried.
Essentially the Planet has borrowed two traits from existing broad sheet
newspapers: the Independent’s ‘independent’ stance which was
encapsulated in the memorable 1986 launch campaign ‘It is, are you?’ and
the Guardian’s social conscience platform.
‘We are not eco-warriors wearing cheese-cloth and beads. I hate to use
the words middle-class but, yes, we are middle-class. We will be
exploring issues of environment and lifestyle and how they affect us,
our children and the planet. In-depth research has shown that people
want a newspaper that will be informative, apolitical but not
dictatorial - the Planet on Sunday will fulfil this need,’ says
Criticising the UK’s biggest selling broad sheet the Sunday Times as
‘staid’, Mitchelson said the strength of the Planet would be its scoops:
‘stories to stop readers in their tracks’.
It’s a brave thought but Mitchelson’s team of 12 little known
journalists and ‘an army of freelances’ will be up against the financial
might of the Mail on Sunday’s parent Associated Newspapers and Express
Newspapers whose parent United News and Media recently merged with
broadcast and financial group MAI in a highly competitive market.
Deputy editor of the Planet will be Drew Robertson, who worked with
Mitchelson on the launch of Sunday Sport and went on to edit it. Sandra
Andrews takes on the role of news editor and Sandra Walsh will be
It will be a tough battle for the Planet on Sunday, made more difficult
by the fact that it is not producing a brand building advertising
campaign. The promotional task has been left to Birmingham based PR
company David Clarke and Associates.