Earlier this month the Evening Standard was re-launched by its editor, the ex Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.
I was commissioned to conduct the focus groups for what Osborne described as “extensive research” amongst readers. YouGov conducted the quantitative element of the research.
The re-launch has caught attention and Osborne has been interviewed by the trade press. He has also been interviewed by Anne McElvoy in a live session at Ad Week Europe.
Below I’ve captured the ten best quotes from Osborne that describe his ambition for the paper, his role, the redesign and the role of advertising in the newspaper.
“[The redesign will] turn up the volume on the Evening Standard”
“What I’ve tried to do is just give the paper more influence, to give it more clout, to make it the go to paper in the country… I want its political coverage and international coverage to be credible and move events at Westminster or Whitehall or around the country”.
“To remind readers that we’re still a paper that’s heart is still in London we’ve tried to reflect the values of London, which is pro-business, socially liberal and internationalist, we’ve taken the Eros and really enhanced that and made it red”.
“My role now is to get to the things that in my previous job I would not have told you. My job now is to be the editor and I have a little bit of an advantage because I know where to look”.
“Where is the paper with a large readership that’s saying we don’t have to have Jeremy Corbyn or Jacob Rees Mogg running this country, we can have something in the middle? That to me feels like a big vacated space in the middle of the British media market. Yes, there are some broadsheets that aspire to be that but with much smaller readerships. Some of the middle market tabloids have got pretty shrill. That leaves a sodding great gap in the middle and I want to park the Standard right there”.
“Your Evening Standard reader wants to know about Kim Jong-un but also wants to know about Kim Kardashian. You can pitch to both interests. You can talk about Brexit but you can also tell people the best place to get breakfast in London”.
“Because I was talking about entertaining as well as informing, we’ve more ability [on the front cover] to puff things inside so people are drawn in [note that this can include commercial content]”.
“Good advertising can make it [the newspaper] look better”.
“Very simply our paper is available for free so we’ve got to raise money in advertising and sponsorship to provide that product for free and we’re not proud of that in any sort of sniffy sense. We will work with every advertiser to design a product that works with the newspaper and we will wrap the paper as many times as we’re asked to wrap it”.
“[On sponsorships] I don’t feel in any way compromised by these partnerships. I think they are enormously strengthening to the paper because they allow us to invest in good quality journalism and, in some cases, things we would not have been so well staffed to cover we can cover more. As of last week we now have a three-page travel section that we didn’t have before”.
The new look paper looks pretty smart and includes many ideas generated by the reader research. They were fascinating focus groups to moderate and we covered a lot of ground. Londoners are opinionated and passionate about their paper and I suspect it will dominate their commutes for years to come.