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Thoughts on the Daily Sport relaunch

As has been reported, the Daily Sport is to undergo a phased relaunch. It certainly needs one, but the proprieters aren’t going far enough.

The quandary is something Seth Godin mentioned in a recent post – should one target those that currently buy the product or those that don’t? ABC figures give the Daily Sport an average circulation of 100,000 people across the last 12 months – not quite the 3,000,000 or so that The Sun gets, but a reasonable number to forecast revenues from. As was mentioned by Robin Wright in my previous post differentiated continuity is required to avoid alienating the present consumers. But given that 100,000 readers gives around a 1% market share, I think it should look towards the 99% (or 47% if you only count men) that don’t buy it.

For me, the Daily Sport’s image problems are too deep – it needs surgery. Quick, deep and precise surgery. The young men it will most likely be targeting won’t remember the 80’s heyday of the Sunday Sport, with the outlandish stories (sample headline: “Aliens turned my son into a fish finger”). They will associate upskirt photographs of soap “stars” and glamour models with the paper – editorial, and even sport, are secondary at best. A soft relaunch will make it more difficult to overcome these perceptions.

Sunday Sport

However I think the general conceit is a good one. Choice quotes of the Nuts/Zoo/Bravo/Sky Sports repositioning include:

“It is unashamedly for ‘the boys’, all boys, majoring on sport, girls and a bloke’s-eye view of the world … essentially what other tabloids used to be before they went mainstream and started trying to please everyone with a more feminine and gossipy stance.” – Barry McIlheney, Editor-In-Chief

“They are risqué not offensive, original, opinionated, quirky and unashamed of their adult content. And while at times they will also be politically incorrect, our research shows this is a breath of fresh air to our target readership.” – James Brown, Consultant Editor-In-Chief

Despite some sniffy commentary, I can see it working.  A significant minority of the population are still not online, and not everyone works in an office or somewhere where they have Internet access.  These people will be the core audience. Saying that, the Daily Sport must be one of the few media companies in the current age that doesn’t have a (working) website. That is something that needs to be rectified, no matter how basic it is.

There is also room for a more laddish editorial tone. Tabloids are more celebrity focused than ever, and despite The Sun’s rather weak changes to Bizarre this does tend to attract the female audience. Jokey editorial and plenty of sport and women can act as a communal social object that men can discuss in canteens or in the pub. By the looks of today’s cover (Lucy Pinder NUDE inside), the pictures aren’t going to be any less provocative, but that only makes it analagous to Nuts and Zoo.

But it will be a hard sell – both to the public and the city. That the NRS do not report on readership is no surprise – despite softer content, the Daily Sport is akin to pornography. Which is why I think a relaunch is a good idea, but a total rebranding would have been a better one.



2 Responses

  1. They could do quite well looking to a male-targeted model of Wendy Henry’s approach as features ed on The Sun in the ’80s: a boy’s equivalent of the “Hey, Doris, look at this!” factor she pioneered. “Hey, Barry!” perhaps. Thanks to the internet there’s probably a higher tolerance for yuck journalism than there was in Henry’s day also. Maybe they could rip off Bizarre mag…

    I don’t see the point in the upskirt stuff though and think they should ditch it; harder grot is now so readily available if you’re in pursuit of real grubbiness, while if you actually want nice-looking girls there’s a surfeit slightly higher up the market. What’s the appeal of orange-peel close-ups of a Jodie Marsh wannabe’s sweaty thong (she asked, naively over-estimating the “read”ership)? And while I think it’s possible to seriously debate the sexual politics of Nuts et al because the lad’s mag sector is more nuanced (did I really just write “Nuts” and “nuanced” within ten words of each other? Anyway…), at least Lucy Pinder and friends look like they want to be there. These “oops!” accidental porn shots squick me out because they send very dubious mixed messages: someone with the brain power of your average Sport reader (did I really just write “brain power” and “Sport reader” within ten words of each other? Anyway…) may not realise and/or care that it’s a photo-shoot and hence that it’s not actually ok to try to film up women’s skirts without their knowledge. Which is something I’ve seen “lads” trying to do to women on escalators etc, and ought really to be a sexual offence comparable to indecent exposure, but is seen by some men (thankfully an unappealing minority) as “a bit of a laugh”.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts – it is a dangerous slope. I get the impression that the Sport is looking to move upmarket by ditching the invasive photos and replacing them with models. The big challenge is convincing the wider public that they are doing this, being as most wouldn’t go near the title and will have their opinions well ingrained.

    Lad’s inherently like birds, booze, football and jokes – a combination of that done well could easily give it the “hey, barry!” (or hey, arnold!?) factor.

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