Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Branson No Match for Bruiser Murdoch

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Branson No Match for Bruiser Murdoch

Article excerpt

Sir Richard Branson has lost none of his marketing chutzpah. There it was on the front page of The Sunday Telegraph, an enormous red banner headline: 'Save up to 55% on flights with Virgin Atlantic'.

Immediately underneath was the carefully leaked splash: 'Branson takes on Murdoch in media battle'.

Clearly, either Sir Richard or those people at The Sunday Telegraph are devilishly clever. Sponsored front pages open up a whole new vista in the commercial development of newspapers. You take the main reader offer and tie it in with a suitably relevant business leak and you get potentially double the impact.

The only slight danger is that the prospect of 55% off Virgin Atlantic flights will excite people so much that they turn immediately to page 32 and miss the Branson initiative on the front page.

Never mind, the offer is very instructive. In fact, it is a perfect template for anyone lacking experience in precisely how to pitch reader offers.

Somehow, between page one and page 32 the 'up to 55% off' mysteriously changes to 'save up to 46% on flights to America and Shanghai'. The 55% discount, it seems, had been on flights to the Caribbean, and that offer had been for readers of The Daily Telegraph the previous day. Sorry suckers. There are indeed flights to Boston with 46% off the current best price, but there is a bit of a disappointment for people wanting to travel to Shanghai.

Here, unfortunately, the discount drops to a mere 24%.

Only pedants would consider questioning whether the 'save up to 46% on flights to America and Shanghai' offer is entirely fair and not just a tiny bit misleading.

The real question is whether the 'Branson takes on Murdoch in media battle' headline also promises rather more than it delivers.

It all seems straightforward. Sir Richard folds his successful mobile phone company into cable group NTL. Brilliant. The cable company - and we know all about its reputation for marketing - will suddenly morph into a company called Virgin. Then it will be able to deliver the ultimate offering - quadruple play: mobile and fixed-line telephony, high-speed internet and television.

The next obvious step is to win Premiership football rights, and then in the battle between Branson and Murdoch, Sir Richard will emerge victorious. …

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