i Newspaper

How W Communications aped an advertising schedule to deliver phenomenal launch results for i

W Communications created a powerful broadcast campaign for the launch of i, the UK’s first quality daily to be launched in 25 years that dominated rolling news. It almost singlehandedly delivered phenomenal initial sales figures for i, averaging 180,000 per day in its first week on the newsstand. It also achieved the impossible: actively growing the declining newspaper market.


i, the UK's first quality daily newspaper to hit newsstands in almost 25 years, went on sale on Tuesday 26 October 2010. Created by The Independent and backed by new proprietors the Lebedevs, i targeted readers and lapsed readers of quality newspapers, offering a concise, quality daily paper for just 20p.


W Communications was tasked with creating a launch campaign for i that would deliver immediate awareness and strong sales figures. Establishing i as an instant success was imperative.
Given that i is a new national newspaper, print newspaper coverage was off limits; at best the launch would be met with silence, at worst, derision. W Communications was briefed to create a standout broadcast campaign that would work as hard as a TV advertising campaign.
The challenge was to reach as many potential readers as possible, as many times as possible, in the first 48 hours of launch. A one-off story would not suffice.
The activity also had to position i as an innovative new newspaper, designed to reinvigorate the newspaper industry. Winning over its newspaper rivals was crucial.


W Communications’ strategy was to ape a high-impact TV and radio advertising campaign with an approach rooted in a forensic analysis of broadcast media. The activity was meticulously planned to deliver different angles at different times across TV and radio and rigorously scheduled to ensure it reached its target audience multiple times with clear key messages about i.
Meanwhile, W Communications’ long-term coverage strategy was to lobby newspaper review slots to ensure they change their entire graphic systems to showcase i’s front cover into the future.


The approach was to create a suite of broadcast assets that could be rolled out repeatedly across multiple news outlets.
•       1800hrs October 25 News seeded of the launch in Sky News radio interview.
•       2200hrs October 25 The first visual of the paper was exclusively unveiled later that evening on Sky News’ paper review slot, a spot negotiated as part of the deal with Sky to ensure 48 hours worth of coverage.
•       0000hrs October 26 Exclusive access to printing press granted to key broadcast and TV syndication agencies of the first copies of I and first interviews with Evgeny Lebedev  and MD Andrew Mullins ensured the stories established the biggest possible reach and the most control.
•       0600 - 1800hrs October 26 The second phase targeted media that would reach i’s target market before they headed out to work.  Sky Sunrise ran the pre-recorded exclusive interview with Evgeny at the printing press. BBC breakfast, meanwhile, had a first interview with editor in chief Simon Kelner alongside a pre-record from i’s newsroom.
•       1000 - 1800hrs October 26 The story was evolved to target daytime business analysis shows with Andrew Mullins interviewed by BBC news channel and Sky News Business Bulletin. Both were also repeated thoughout the day.
•       0600 – 1800hrs October 27 This story thread extended into day two with a live radio interview on Radio 4 and regional radio.
•       October 27 and beyond A final phase sought consumer reaction with vox pops running on Channel 4 news and London Tonight.

By adopting a market-growing message, negative national news sentiment was minimized and the campaign delivered unanimously fair and positive coverage.


During the campaign, broadcast coverage ran in 27 national TV slots including on BBC News and Sky News, reaching an audience of more than 46m people, most of these were multiple hits. More than 20 national radio pieces ran, including Sky News Radio, Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, alongside 550 regional radio. In total, W Communications generated more than 1,075 items of coverage, reaching more than 200m consumers. Of these pieces nearly 100% were positive about the launch.
i sold an average of almost 180,000 copies a day in its first week – an achievement almost singlehandedly delivered by the broadcast campaign. The Independent’s circulation figures barely dropped a single copy. Nor did the circulations of any other newspapers suffer, proving that i had achieved the impossible – it actually grew the newspaper market in a climate of widely reported declining circulations.
The latest ABC circulation figures for i (at the time of writing) have remained high, at 167,067 (May) giving The Independent and i a combined circulation greater than that of the Guardian.
As a direct result of our lobbying, the broadcast paper review landscape has changed forever with all shows creating fresh formats in which to showcase i’s front cover.

Final word

W Communications, in launching the first new newspaper in 25 years, had to completely re-write the rule book.
Creating a schedule of broadcast content intended to ape the targeting and messaging of a bought ad campaign was both bold and ambitious. Through careful and systematic planning W Communications produced coverage that reached its exact target audience at precisely the right moments over a 48 hour period that would influence their likelihood to purchase – the outstanding results it achieved prove that it worked.
Simon Kelner, Editor-in-Chief of the Independent and i added: 'W Communications has been a great support to The Independent and i over the past year, demonstrating a profound understanding of the way media works, that is so rare among PR agencies. Producing highly professional PR activity around to help us launch i last October, they have really helped us get i talked about across the country.  I usually say ‘never trust a PR’, but thankfully they are repeatedly proving me wrong.  Long may it continue.'

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