What a shame?
Marketing and PR at the Mail
Have you ever been captivated by the Mail Online website? In particular, have you been drawn to the column down the right hand side, captioned pictures of Z list celebrities doing nothing of importance or value often while wearing as little as possible?
If you have, you are among the millions across the globe who have made this the most read English language site in the world. Many of its staff are based in the US digging out Hollywood and New York ‘news’ for the eager readers who avidly browse and devour the tit bits of ‘major’ and ‘interesting’ celebrity trivia.
The column has become known in the media trade as the ‘sidebar of shame,’ apparently because, in the view of many industry commentators, the ‘stars’ who feature in it should be ashamed of themselves. Others have suggested that it is comment on how readers should feel about themselves – enjoying a guilty pleasure.
The Guardian last year said that Mail Online, rather than The Sun on Sunday, had taken over the News of the World’s position as having the ‘self-righteous prurience that brought respectable people all the filth and gossip that they longed to read without corrupting their self image.’
Most remarkable is the contrast between the Mail Online and the content of the Daily Mail. It is hard to imagine the page of the Daily Mail plastered with pictures of young woman including, today, two of Amy Willerton in a bikini in I’m a Celebrity and one of Rebecca Adlington in a swimsuit. There is also ‘A good looking pair; busty Gemma Collins leaves little to the imagination as she dines out with co-star Dan Osborne.’ It reads more like a story from The Sun or Daily Star than the Mail.
Yet Daily Mail is the home of Melanie Phillips whose recent columns have, for instance, complained about how slow the Prime Minister has been to act on online porn. It is difficult to imagine that she would approve of a story in which ‘A bikini clad Nicki Minaj shows off her VERY shapely behind on set of a new video.’
While the print edition today leads with ‘Immigration : the backlash’ , a classic Mail theme, the online top story is ‘We were multi-millionaires, now we’re having to live on benefits’: two very difference publications.
Clearly, the marketers and PR strategists have thought it through and identified two distinctly different positions for the online and print products.
And it works – and both are thriving and sector leaders in highly competitive, challenging markets.
It’s a marketing achieved to be appreciated and applauded.