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Media buyers see teething problems for Berliner Guardian

LONDON – There has been a broadly positive reaction to The Guardian's redesign from media buyers, with predictions old readers would be won back, but this was qualified by concerns about its distribution and problems that its new size and folded format might bring.

Buyers were immediately picking up on the problems that the new size might bring The Guardian because its new folded format could see it struggle for newsstand space.

Mark Gallagher, director of Manning Gottlieb OMD, said: "I think there will be some teething troubles, especially at display. In my rural station this morning, the Berliners were falling off the shelf and the innards were all over the place.

"This is because two piles were stacked at 45 degrees, where there used to be just one. Perhaps urban distribution -- bespoke display units and the like -- is to be tackled first."

Carat's head of press Dominic Williams also pointed to the extra sections slipping out too easily, in contrast to The Times -- Carat's client -- and The Independent.

Williams found the main section a lot easier to read on public transport than the old broadsheet, but found the Media Guardian, Monday's specialist section, a bit heavy to read without the need to fold.

The new folding format takes something away from the power of the front page, according to Gallagher. "When folded it offers just two headlines and half a photo -- The Times' and Indy's front pages can both work a lot harder, something Indy editor Simon Kelner has capitalised on the in the past."

He praised the "clean" new typeface and "modern" masthead. However, Vanessa Doyle, press manager at Initiative, thought the new masthead lost some of the old one's authority, making the main section look like just another section.

The centrespread, which was given to a full-spread picture of the weekend's riot in Northern Ireland, impressed everyone, but Gallagher and Williams believed it would not be long before ads started to appear on it.

In terms of the new content, Gallagher thought the business section could work harder.

"It just wasn't comprehensive and missed one of the big stories of the day, that of the potential strike at Morrisons. If The Guardian has desires to take readers from the likes of The Times, I think it will need to really up its game in business," he said.

But the investment in making sport a separate section every day was lauded, with Doyle saying that it will pay dividends in enticing male readers.

Summing up, Williams said: "You can't knock it and I think it will help to get some of their digital readers back to the paper."

"Any sort of change is a good thing. People like change and they will be intrigued and it will win back old readers," Doyle said.

"It looks and feels great -- eight out of 10," Gallagher said. "I have no doubt that it will attract a lot of interest and enjoy notable short-term circulation gains. They will get up to 390,000 copies by the end of the year."

Date posted: September 12, 2005 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 66