From 50p to free: nine and a half months in the life of the Evening Standard
LONDON - With the London Evening Standard on the verge of becoming free following a tumultuous nine months for the 182-year-old newspaper, Brand Republic takes a look at its key moments in 2009.
From its launch in 1827 by businessman Charles Baldwin, the Standard has had a succession of owners, from Manchester millionaire Sir Edward Hulton and politician Lord Beaverbrook, to Associated Newspapers and now Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev.
January: Lebedev bought a 75.1% stake in the loss-making title from Associated Newspapers for a "nominal sum".
February: His ownership of the paper sparked considerable change at the title, starting with the appointment of Geordie Grieg as editor, replacing Veronica Wadley who had been at the helm since 2002.
An early sign of willingness to take radical action came with its trials of distributing heavily discounted and free copies in the late evening.
On February 20, the Evening Standard hired Sarah Sands, the editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest, as deputy editor. She joined the title's other deputy editor Andrew Bordiss in August.
March: The new team parted company with media agency Starcom, moving its £4.5m media planning and buying account to Walker Media after a five-way pitch.
May: It then chose to underline its break with the past to the whole of London, launching a three-week ad campaign on May 5, to apologise for having been negative and out of touch with its readers.
Just a week later, on May 11, Evening Standard relaunched as the London Evening Standard and gave away 650,000 free copies. The refreshed title introduced new sections and columnists and overhauled its ES magazine as well as its website, bringing in new blogs and a Twitter feed.
The relaunch, which came in response to market research that found that Londoners believed the paper was too negative in the past, was backed by a new "we promise" marketing campaign that replaced its "sorry" executions.
June: The relaunch boosted the Standard's headline circulation 12% from 210,901 in May to 236,075 in June, but its subsequent switch to the ABC's regional reporting regime means that this is the last circulation figure currently available.
August: The National Readership Survey showed that the London Evening Standard had begun to increase its readership over the previous six months.
September: The closure of freesheet thelondonpaper on September 18 marked the end of News International's bid to rival the Standard in the London evening paper market.
October: The London Evening Standard announced today that it will become a free circulation paper.
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