The Independent and The Independent on Sunday are courting controversy by returning to their advertising roots with the “It is. Are you?” strapline for a new campaign.
The newspaper was told by the Advertising Standards Authority in March 1995 that its independence claim was misleading after it ran a campaign knocking The Times and The Telegraph as mouthpieces for their proprietors.
The slogan will resurface in a promotional campaign for The Independent and Independent on Sunday that launches this weekend on TV.
This will be followed by a TV and radio branding campaign and a mailshot to attract long-term subscribers.
The Independent says the campaign will involve its biggest marketing spend for five years.
Jeremy Reed, managing director of The Independent, says: “The slogan can’t be bettered. So we should continue to use it. It reaffirms the position we’ve always had as independent of voice – our raison d’Ãªtre.”
Reed says he is not anticipating any response to the new ads from other newspaper groups. “We do not have a single proprietor controlling the newspapers and the editors are independent.”
Mirror Group and Tony O’Reilly’s Independent Newspapers of Dublin each own 46 per cent of The Independent – more than they did at the time of the ASA’s adjudication that “the advertisement implied incorrectly that The Independent’s shareholders could not affect the news- paper’s editorial policy and asked the advertiser to withdraw the claim”.
The “It is. Are you?” campaign was created by Saatchi & Saatchi for The Independent’s launch in 1986. At launch, the newspaper placed limits on the size of shareholders’ stakes to stop any gaining a controlling interest.