Guardian ad offers snapshot into future of national newspapers

Choosing Hugh Grant to front a new ad campaign extolling the “integrity” of your newspaper seems a little bizarre, given the actor made his name and millions on the back of his wholesome look and clean-cut image only to be later found to be a curb crawler.  And not a very good one at that.

But for Grant, at least this latest gig is offering something he is not getting much of nowadays- screen time. The last time Grant had a hit film, the Guardian was a broadsheet newspaper.

The Guardian’s advertising campaigns- unlike the paint-by-numbers, shout-in-your-face usual newspaper campaigns prevalent in the sector- have always been pretty good. And this one is no exception.

Beneath the sheen of the Jerrry Bruckheimer-stylistics, the ad also offers a nice snapshot into the future of the Guardian: a once a week publishing operation offering readers a compendium of the weekly news.

Within the next five years, perhaps even earlier, expect the Guardian to be a weekend-only publication: the Observer name will be dropped and replaced by a “Guardian Weekend” proposition, like what the FT publishes now.

There has never been any economic sense in publishing the Guardian on Saturday and Observer on Sunday, with separate editors and limited sharing of editorial resources.

One editor and one editorial team producing the “Guardian Weekend” is not the panacea to alleviating the GNM’s mamoth annual losses but it could help some way to help meet the £7m editorial annual savings it needs.

So, GNM executives will no doubt be considering not only combining the weekly offering into one paper but also the costs which could be saved from  culling the Monday—to-Friday edition as well.

Look at the figures, audited figures show the Guardian had an average circulation of 204,000 in December, but this is massively inflated by the 400,000 it sells on a Saturday.

The Guardian probably has a hardcore readership of at best 100,000 a day during the week, and even they are not immune do price increases on the paper.  It simply doesn’t make financial sense to publish everyday.

*-The Observer, meanwhile, does 230,000, second to bottom in the market.

As the ad says, the Guardian on a Saturday is a popular read, and if it came to a shoot-out between which brand to axe, the Guardian or Observer, there is only one winner there.