Guardian invests £2m in marketing as it adopts “digital first” strategy

The Guardian is investing an extra £2m in brand marketing this year and expanding its marketing team as it rolls out its recently announced “digital first” strategy.


The newspaper is recruiting a team of nine “digitally enabled marketers with classic DM skills” as it builds out its new “direct to consumer” marketing approach, which will see marketing campaigns integrating user generated content and Guardian editorial.

Chris Lawson, the Guardian’s content sales and marketing director, says the changes reflect how the Guardian’s audiences are consuming media, on a number of devices and platforms beyond the traditional newspaper.

He says: “Direct to consumer marketing is now a strategic priority. The £2m investment is not out of my existing budget, it is additional because it is important to establish a direct relationship with our readers to understand where the market is going and to allow us to cross sell and upsell.”

The Guardian hopes the new approach to marketing, which will result in a series of brand campaigns, will fulfill its ambition of doubling its current 49,000 print subscriber base and also doubling its iPhone subscribers to more than 150,000.

The new marketing team will work to find more days to consolidate editorial and marketing creative, similar to its recent digital outdoor campaign this July that featured up-to-date front pages and tweets from the Guardian’s coverage of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Lawson says: “Brand marketing is intrinsic in everything we are doing and the quality journalism at the Guardian is our greatest marketing tool.”

Each campaign will drive people online to encourage them to collaborate with the brand.

Lawson says: “Before, we used to focus on promotional-led marketing but the market evolves our approach has to evolve. We realise the importance of our direct relationship with our audience. Collaboration and participation are parts of our philosophy and our great content is being improved by our audiences.”

He adds that while one of the Guardian’s strongest marketing tools in social media is Twitter, the newspaper will also be ramping up its use of Facebook in the coming months.

All new marketing campaigns will also be required to capture data in order for the company to learn how its audience is segmented and which devices they prefer to access content on.

The Guardian recently overhauled the way it gathers and stores user data, by creating database with marketing services company Acxiom, so that every consumer that has interacted with the brand – from people who have purchased a Guardian book, to someone that has attended the event – is listed in one place.

Separately,the newspaper group has also announced that it is to fold three of its standalone supplements –  Media, Education and Society – into the main newspaper.

Read data reporter Michael Barnett’s view on GNM’s strategy here.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here