i being Independent Print’s cut-down version of the ailing Independent quality paper, on sale in the UK today for 20p.
First reactions to i have been positive, former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie appearing on the radio this morning to say it’s bright and lively, unlikely its ‘long and boring’ sibling. An old tabloid hand like McKenzie would say this of course, but he may be anticipating the reader reaction pretty accurately.
Which might be an own goal for the full-size Independent, now reckoned to be selling less than 100,000 full-price copies in the UK.
Hatfield did a good job with News International’s free thelondonpaper but was hamstrung by its ludicrously early deadlines and the LondonLite spoiler launched by Associated Newspapers, then publisher of the paid-for London Evening Standard.
The Evening Standard is now owned by Independent Print, the publishing vehicle owned by Russians Alexander and Evgeney Lebedev, and is thriving mightily as a free newspaper with a circulation in London pushing one million. Hatfield has always been matey with the Indy’s Kelner, writing an advertising column in the paper’s Monday media section when he was at Campaign.
In the meantime Independent Print seems to be spending plenty of Lebedev money on the launch of i including a poster campaign by Beattie McGuinness Bungay that’s a riff on the famous old Independent launch campaign ‘It is. Are you?’ from the Saatchi brothers.
Hatfield took up a News International job in Wapping when thelondonpaper folded but has recently left it so it’s a pretty fair bet that he’ll end up at i somewhere. But he’ll be nervous about another paper disappearing from under him.