Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Veni, Midi, Vici. Guardian Is out to Win

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Veni, Midi, Vici. Guardian Is out to Win

Article excerpt

All eyes in the media next week will be turning toward The Guardian - and you haven't always been able to say that in recent years. All the paper's rivals have been watching like hawks and sharpening their talons in case its imminent Berliner format enjoys the benefit of the new and starts to claw back sales from The Times and The Independent.

Advertisers who are awake will want to be present in the first days, even the first weeks, of the first full-colour Le Monde-sized national in British newspaper history. First reports of the dummies of the new beast have been complimentary and the all-new Guardian, which will appear on 12 September, will receive a great deal of free attention across the media for its pounds 80m investment.

The big unanswered question is whether its fall to sales of 358,345, the lowest since 1978, is the result of the appearance of tabloid rivals, the newspaper's adherence to Old Labour values or its generosity in offering its sophisticated online service to the world for free.

The reality is that a combination of all three is probably at work, and once the sampling effect is over it could prove difficult for the new midi-sized paper to fight its way back to what used to be rock-solid territory for The Guardian - a circulation of 400,000.

The December ABC figures should start to give a serious indication as to whether size also matters in the midi market.

In an ideal media world, The Guardian should be rewarded for its virtue, investment and enterprise and start to punch its weight again in the market after an unfortunate blip. It would also be nice if at the top end of the market there could be not just diversity of opinion, but also of format - tabloid, midi and broadsheet.

In the real world, executives at The Daily Telegraph will be watching next week's events most carefully of all. Will the paper be able to continue with its by-now increasingly distinctive broadsheet format, or will broadsheets simply become so associated with the old, the passe and the retired colonels of Cheltenham that they are simply no longer viable?

If the broadsheet is no longer sustainable, the Berliner format could be a possible route out of the dilemma for the Telegraph. As Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger puts it, one of the challenges he faced was to find a format which combines 'the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet'. …

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