Magazine article Marketing

Times Saver

Magazine article Marketing

Times Saver

Article excerpt

It's three days before Christmas and the corridors of News International are decked out in suitably festive style.

At the end of this maze of be-ribboned marble, past the original printing press, up a few floors in the silent lift, Alasdair MacLeod, general manager of Times Newspapers, is waiting to talk about the relaunch of The Times's Saturday paper - a key weapon in the war against broadsheet market leader The Daily Telegraph.

MacLeod rises to greet me from behind a suitably capacious desk. He is a tall, bespectacled figure who could be aged anywhere between 34 and 54.

In fact, he is 36 and is married to Rupert Murdoch's eldest daughter, Prudence, the only child from the tycoon's first marriage. Together they have three children, live in west London and support Chelsea Football Club.

MacLeod has forged his career at his father-in-law's company. He joined in 1989 after a four-year stint at Citibank and has since worked across various departments.

Immediately before his promotion to general manager of Times Newspapers last August, MacLeod was director of circulation and a key player in the paper's legal battle with the Audit Bureau of Circulations and The Telegraph over the classification of subscription sales.

Most observers believe he is being groomed for even greater glory in the Murdoch family firmament, and if he can turn The Times into Britain's best selling broadsheet newspaper, as he intends, his future is assured.

Despite the scale of the task MacLeod has been charged with, he remains a shadowy figure within Murdoch's newspaper empire.

In person, he gives little away and can appear deliberately obtuse. Indeed, he only revealed anything of his personality when the interview was over and I had put my pen away.

MacLeod was circulation manager of The Times when it first slashed its cover price in September 1993, and subsequently became marketing manager of Times Newspapers.

When pressed, he says it is precisely this experience in circulation and marketing which propelled him into the general manager's role ahead of the much-respected deputy general manager, Camilla Rhodes, whom he describes as an "experienced advertising executive".

Although he hastily acknowledges the crucial role played by advertising - one of the aims of the new Saturday magazine is to pull in fresh advertisers - it is clear that the marketing strategy is seen as crucial to pull in new Saturday readers of The Times. …

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