Guardian lines up agencies for rescue mission

The Guardian newspaper is reviewing its ad account, historically one of UK adland’s trophy accounts although the cash-strapped paper is only expected to spend about £2m with the lucky winner.

As you’d expect the pitch numbers some of adland’s finest: Bartle Bogle Hegarty (which has seemed like the obvious home for the Guardian for years), RKCR/Y&R and incumbent Wieden+Kennedy which produced this rather nice ad for the last World Cup.

The Guardian’s agency has to live with the legacy of the famous ‘Points of view’ ad featuring a life-saving skinhead. This was produced by Boase Massimi Pollitt (now DDB London) way back in 1986 and directed by uber maestro Paul Weiland.

Actually it hasn’t weathered that well but that’s old ads for you.

The main thing about this (apart from being a brilliant film in its day) was that it summed up what the Guardian, the UK’s leading left-leaning quality paper, stood for so well.

The Guardian remains an excellent paper, leading the pack in coverage of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World and the antics of departed UK coalition defence secretary Liam Fox, but its circulation is dropping alarmingly (although its free website has about 20m monthly visitors).

The main problem for the paper (aside from the problems of the newspaper industry generally, job cuts at News International’s The Times were announced today) is that, at a cover price of £1.20p, it is hardly competitive in the main market of London against the free Metro and Evening Standard and the Independent’s 20p i.

It’s hard to see quite what an ad agency, however clever, can do about this, particularly on a modest budget. Maybe they’ll concentrate on plugging the website?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.