July 15th 2011 and I have just returned from a week long trip to the UK which has been dominated by the ever developing news stories about Rupert Murdoch’s News International Corp and the phone hacking scandal.
Of particular interest to me has been the impact on both local UK owned media brands: Tabloid newspapers The News of the World (which Murdoch opted to close after 167 year publishing history so as to lessen the impact on the parent brand, The Sun and of course The London Times. In addition News Int backed off on it’s ambition to buy control of B Sky B under massive public and political pressure. Part of this was also a reaction from the advertisers who started to withdraw campaigns from the various brands as they looked to distance themselves from brands tarnished by the negative impact of the coverage.
One wonders if this impact on the media brands will cross to the US. News International owns two key US brands in Wall Street Journal and Fox (including Fox News). Already the FBI has announced plans to investigate the possibility of phone hacking 9/11 victims, which even if untrue will be a huge blow to the brands here in the US. Even now one wonders how advertisers might react in planning campaigns for the next few weeks and months as more damaging stories and negative PR emerge about this story and it’s global implications.
This again highlights the importance of media brands and how easily that image can be tarnished. It also highlights how media agencies such as ours need to always factor in this element into plans and conversations with clients when defining what media brand impact can have on the branding campaigns we choose to run.
I have little doubt that the long term business prospects for News International will be quite strong and that brand impact for individual media brands outside the UK will be limited. It is clear the brands not effected will aggressively defend themselves and may even emerge stronger as a result. The next few weeks will be interesting indeed for the whole media industry.
For more on the subject of Media brands selling brands do read the whitepaper, available for free on the Just Media website.
Dick Reed, CEO
Just Media, Inc.