Murdoch says it’s to be The Sun on Sunday – did old mate Martin Sorrell have anything to do with this?

Well I only ask because: Rupert Murdoch’s statement today that he backs the Sun, wants to be bring back all the suspended (and arrested) journalists and still wants to launch The Sun on Sunday (‘in the near future”) flies in the face of all known reason.

As my colleague Stuart Smith has pointed out, the Sun is a ‘shot’ brand.

Nobody else in his News Corporation company thinks The Sun on Sunday, a replacement for the News of the World which closed in the phone hacking scandal, is a good idea; not COO Chase Carey, not son James who is deputy COO and whose career has foundered on these awful English papers, not daughter Elizabeth, certainly not the serried ranks of News Corp’s expensive lawyers.

And most certainly not News Corp’s mostly US shareholders who want to be rid of newspapers entirely – and, probably, the Murdochs.

So who has been telling Rupert it’s a good idea?

Might it be one Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured), head of WPP? Sorrell is an old mucker of Murdoch’s (he’s also friendly with rival press tycoon Richard Desmond, but that’s advertising) and WPP is currently carrying out an in-house beauty contest between its various agencies to see who will handle News International’s £28m account in the UK.

This cosy deal must have been tycoon-to-tycoon between Murdoch and Sorrell. There’s nobody at News International with the authority to do this deal, least of all ex-journo CEO Tom Mockridge. But Sorrell wouldn’t have done it unless he had good reason to think that Murdoch’s papers would come out fighting.

And Sorrell is on the record bemoaning the fact that the removal of the News of the World from the British media scene takes away a valuable advertising option, one which profits WPP. He also said, back in September, that he thinks a Sun on Sunday is a good idea.

They’re both mad. The Sun on Sunday will cost a fortune to launch, the already dishevelled Sun brand will be further undermined by more arrests and eventual court cases and tabloid Sunday newspapers are fucked anyway, readers don’t believe in them and advertisers don’t want to be seen there.

For Rupert Murdoch, aged 80, it’s his last stand. He’s come out supporting something he’s always believed in, tabloid newspapers. If he loses he’ll retire into the sunset.

As for Sorrell he doesn’t accept that there’s anything the serried might of WPP can’t do in the business of changing public opinion.

The two tycoons (combined age 147) might just find that the world has moved on.

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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.