Tomorrow, News International launches The Sun on Sunday.
Many of you will wish it ill. I cannot agree – and not just because it provides much-needed jobs for newspaper journalists. The News of the World sold 2.75 million copies before its demise. Many of those readers have not bought any of the alternatives out there. There is clearly a gap.
This Sunday’s sales figures will prove little, however. Rupert Murdoch himself tweeted (!) that he would be happy with any sales over two million. The first issue will probably do much better than that with many people (myself included) buying it out of curiosity. The Mirror Group and the Express group will be nervous of losing their recent gains. NI is spending up to £7m on marketing the launch – an amount that makes rivals look on in envy.
The test will come when the initial launch marketing period ends. This week, on the back of our own modest ad campaign, i reached a record 215,000 sales. Add in the trial copies at British Airways, etc, then we currently have a circulation over 250,000. That’s remarkable. But it is not just down to us. It’s down to readers like the charming Alan Sandall, who bid to have lunch with me at London’s The Ivy restaurant in the Christmas charity auction.
Alan, a lifetime civil servant of the old school, who believes in service, community, and is clearly of unimpeachable integrity, proved the most charming company one could expect of a stranger. Except the thing about i is we don’t really think you are strangers. We feel we are (to coin a phrase) all in this together. You don’t have to buy i. There are long-established rivals and free alternatives. Dedicated readers of Alan’s calibre spur us on to be better. And that’s how it should be. See you on Monday.