Magazine article Marketing

The Observer Seeks Stand-Out in Ad Rethink

Magazine article Marketing

The Observer Seeks Stand-Out in Ad Rethink

Article excerpt

Observer chief Marc Sands tells Poppy Brech why he is putting the title's ad task to pitch despite growing sales

When ad accounts are reviewed, it is often assumed that the business is under-performing. But the news that The Observer's [pound]6m ad account is up for pitch comes at a time when its sales have risen 11% year on year.

Marc Sands, marketing director of The Guardian and The Observer, admits that 'The Original Sunday' work carried out by incumbent Ogilvy & Mather has contributed to this success and says "there is not a big problem that needs fixing".

If there had been, Sands, who has been at Guardian Newspapers for a year, would have reviewed the account earlier, as he did with The Guardian, where he has replaced Partners BDDH with BMP DDB.

But when it comes to selling national newspapers, particularly in the aggressive Sunday market, advertising that is 'problem-free' is not good enough." There is nothing really wrong, it's just the advertising is unremarkable -- there is a sense of unfulfilled potential," says Sands.

He emphasises that he has invited Ogilvy to repitch, alongside Fallon, Deakin Blazey Moore, Leagas Delaney, Mother and BMP. It is not clear whether Ogilvy will repitch.

Under the editorship of Roger Alton, The Observer has regained its distinctive voice and reputation for editorial excellence, both in the main paper and through one-off supplements such as 'Britain Uncovered', which saw sales of the paper exceed the 470,000 mark. The launch of monthly sports and food supplements has helped the title to its 11% growth in a declining market, but this remains small beer compared with the 1.31 million sales of The Sunday Times and the 787,109 of The Sunday Telegraph.

Sands admits The Observer's strong performance is off a low base, but says it has convinced him there is room for further growth and adds that he has set "aggressive targets for the next three years". …

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