So, after a frenzied seven days, News International closed the door on one of the world’s oldest and most popular newspapers yesterday.
At the time of writing this blog, none of the senior management responsible for one of the darkest periods in British newspaper history have fallen on their swords, but a loss making though popular Sunday tabloid has been shut down, with the loss of hundreds of jobs. And the rumours swirling even before Thursday’s BBC Question Time were that the paper will be quickly replaced by The Sun on Sunday.
From a marketing perspective, it was interesting to watch the discussion unfold as to the reaction of advertisers, their brands and their promotion using channels like tabloid newspapers to access huge demographic groups.
In some cases, it could be seen that first movers like Ford made the decision to remove their advertising with ethical considerations in mind. But in others, surprisingly brands including The Cooperative waited too long, wanting to see how far and how deep public anger would run before clarifying their position.
Marketers must take some critical learnings from this sorry episode.
1. Chose your marketing partners wisely. Your reputation and integrity are intrinsically linked once you do.
2. Whether it is advertising, direct marketing, sponsorship or PR, be mindful that the Internet and portals like Twitter have changed the game forever, transferring power to the public. We saw this week the ease of viral spread of online petitions, lists of target companies, pre-populated emails and tweets.
3. Deal quickly and decisively and communicate your position and intentions as transparently as you can. Some advertisers had to run adverts in the magazine supplement which was already printed and were quick to advise.
4. Remember corporate social responsibility isn’t just a fad to be included as a bolt on in your marketing plan. Increasingly, it is a critical point of difference and the companies that embody it stand head and shoulders apart from those that merely pay it lip service.
Call me cynical, but I wonder if brands like Halifax, T-Mobile, Virgin and Tesco didn’t just switch their allegiances to other papers on Sunday AND continue to work with the News International stable. Waiting for The Sun on Sunday.
Yes it’s time to make a stand, but as we’re seeing, business is still business. Will marketers learn anything and even remember all this in twelve months time? I’m not so sure.
Image: The Telegraph