What an incredible week it must have been for all those connected with the News of the World. The paper’s circulation has been declining for a number of years, but I can’t quite remember an iconic establishment brand being discontinued in quite such dramatic circumstances.
I once interviewed for a marketing role at News International and I remember signing in at those security front gates at Wapping. It was not the most glamorous of welcomes but what lay behind those turnstile gates will always stick with me. There are not many businesses where the noise and smell of production co-exist with the creative talents of journalists and the commercial buzz of the media salesfloor all on one site.
Add to this the history of Fleet Street, the trade union industrial action that greeted Wapping’s arrival, the daily political influence, the gossip of celebrity and you are in a truly landmark place that hits you right between the eyes when you see it for the first time. As you can tell, I was impressed. I remember the marketing offices being quite grim, but the place itself was utterly addictive.
“I was not one of those marketing directors who had to decide whether to pull my advertising from the News of the World”
As things turned out, they were less impressed by me and I didn’t get the job. I was told at the time to not take my rejection personally because despite their big billing of the strategic importance of the marketing roles, the ultimate power base lay in the hands of the editors.
Marketing was very much seen as a promotions department that did what it could to shift a few extra copies and bring in the advertisers but was never really taken seriously at the top table. I suspect that was true, though I was disappointed to be denied the chance to discover it for myself at the time.
Fortunately, I was not one of those marketing directors who had to decide whether to pull my advertising from the News of the World last week as we did not have any print campaigns running at the time.
Clearly the subsequent announcement by Rupert Murdoch to close the paper meant that such decisions became academic, but for a few days at least this was serious stuff. Where did this leave advertisers who had committed space but decided to cancel it of their own choosing?
Where did they stand on monies owing and how did this impact the buying agencies stuck in the middle?
Please step forward an informed media buyer and write a few column inches for your marketing audience.