Katherine Levy: It's now or never for a News of the World replacement at NI
Rupert Murdoch's return to London was always going to be eventful. Last time he was in town, he closed a newspaper. This time around, he has opened one.
As far as PR strategies go, Murdoch has opted for the more brazen of two clear choices with this weekend's launch of The Sun's Sunday edition. Rather than lay low for a little while and weather the storm before making a decisive move, the octogenarian has unleashed an offensive so fleet-footed in its timing that it could scupper his rivals.
News International's own commercial team may have to move at lightning speed to get advertisers on board, but this shock tactic style is typical Murdoch - as any member of staff uprooted from Fleet Street to Wapping in 1986 will tell you.
So Murdoch has given just five working days for the News International sales team to run around town and book space with those clients that used to do Sunday business with News of the World. Such clients may be hard-pressed to find extra cash at this short notice; though, naturally, those that do have ready money must be jumping for joy - after all, few would deny that this is a brilliant opportunity. Especially for the large retailers attempting to drive trade at the weekend.
While facing the practicalities of getting advertising and editorial content on the page in time for launch, Murdoch has chosen to make the Sunday tabloid announcement within the same week that a number of Sun journalists were arrested as part of the ongoing police investigation. Murdoch has invited the journalists in question back into the fold "until or whether charged", which could well come in handy when attempting to get the new paper out.
This aside, Murdoch is making the right commercial decision. The longer News International remains outside the Sunday tabloid market, the more the opportunity left by the closure of News of the World diminishes and advertisers migrate elsewhere, including to new channels that may have previously been resisted. Circulation in the Sunday newspaper market is down 20 per cent year on year, so any new launch in this sector - whether from Murdoch or a rival - can only be a good thing for an industry desperate for a shot in the arm.
It will be interesting to see what News International cobbles together - both commercially and editorially - in the coming days. Considering ads were booked this week when advertisers were unsure of the public's response to its content, it is testament to the power of the Sun brand that advertisers continue to support it. Until or whether events prove otherwise, this trust seems here to stay.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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