“i Will Be a Model For the Newspaper Industry”

By: E&P Staff

MaryLou Costa | Marketing Week

The managing director of iThe Independent‘s new spin-off title – tells MaryLou Costa that the paid-for daily newspaper will satisfy an untapped appetite for bite-size quality content while returning a profit.

It is the day after i hit the nation’s newsstands and Andrew Mullins – the man in charge of The Independent spin-off – is in bullish mood, despite the new daily paper being described as an “upmarket Metro” by Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade.

It is the third title Mullins has taken charge of since being appointed managing director of The Evening Standard in 2007. The Independent was added to his workload in March this year, and he now oversees i.

The former Unilever and Diageo marketer has been a major player in the newspaper business for almost a decade, having been part of the senior management at News International from 2001 to 2007. In the last 24 hours, he has completed a succession of media interviews during which he has stated his case for why, in the digital age, he thinks launching a newspaper is a good business model.

Although media commentators such as Greenslade and Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson have expressed their doubts as to whether this new print title will succeed, Mullins argues there is a real need for a new style of quality newspaper despite the rise of digital media and the fragile economic environment that all businesses must survive in.

He has a food-based analogy at the ready. “Quality newspapers have been in decline for quite a while, and it’s coming down to a core bunch of readers who read a very large paper every day. It’s like a three-course meal: how often do you want to eat a three-course meal? That’s fine if you’re at home seven days a week, but commuters on the move prefer to snack. And i is a snacking news product,” he states.

The bite-size i is a healthy alternative to the peanuts and crisps the paper’s target audience is currently gorging on, Mullins adds. But if peanuts and crisps are what readers have grown accustomed to, surely it is a mammoth task to force them into healthier habits?

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