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.
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.