Sunday Sun sparks marketing ‘bun fight’

This weekend’s launch of The Sun on Sunday by News International has sparked a multi-million pound marketing offensive by rival tabloid newspaper publishers.

Sun on Sunday

Trinity Mirror, owner of the Sunday Mirror and The People, Northern & Shell, which owns Daily Star Sunday and Associated Newspapers, which publishes The Mail on Sunday, are all readying a mixture of above the line marketing campaigns, promotions and price cuts to mitigate the interest surrounding the launch of News International’s new Sunday red top, according to sources close to the publishers.

The moves echo previous marketing assaults following the closure of the News of the World in July, as publishers of rival Sunday tabloids looked to attract its former readers to their titles.

In the four weeks following the News of the World’s closure on 10 July 2011, Associated Newspapers, Express Newspapers and Trinity Mirror spent a combined total of more than £2.8m on multi-platform advertising, up more than 200% on the same period in 2010, according to Nielsen data.

Media insiders have told Marketing Week that a similar, or even an increased amount of advertising spend is planned by News International’s main Sunday red top rivals in order to retain readers both old and new.

Liam Mullins, head of press at media agency the7stars, says: “From an advertiser perspective we are about to see what should be a huge four-week bun fight with a huge spike in above the line advertising as News International, Associated Newspapers, Northern & Shell and Trinity Mirror go head to head.”

A wave of cover price cuts and reader offers have also been planned by News International’s tabloid rivals, in light of the Sun on Sunday launching with an estimated cover price between 50p and 70p. More details will be released soon.

Meanwhile, The Sun on Sunday launched its first above the line TV campaign to promote the title during ITV1’s coverage of the Brit Awards on 21 February and has plans to advertise heavily throughout the week.

The Sunday popular newspaper market has seen a dip in circulation since the News of the World was shut down last summer.

In June, before its closure, the Sunday tabloid market’s total circulation was more than 4.5 million, according to ABC figures. That number was down to 3.2 million in January.

News International is keen to emphasise that the Sunday Sun will not be a direct News of the World replacement, but simply an extra weekly edition of the daily paper. It is understood to be more family friendly in terms of content than its former sister title, but will contain the former News of the World female-focused supplement Fabulous.

Lara O'Reilly

Click here to read why Lara O’Reilly believes the Sun on Sunday is a brand new weekend newspaper concept, for readers and advertisers alike.


Read Mark Ritson’s view on the launch of the Sun on Sunday here.


Sunday red tops’ average net circulation before and after the closure of the News of the World

Source: ABC

  June 2011 January 2012 % change in period
Daily Star Sunday 305,978 644,804 111%
NOTW            2,667,428 N/A  
Sunday Mirror            1,087,796 1,753,202 61%
The People 474,549 770,772 62%


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