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September 23, 2013updated 24 Sep 2013 4:18pm

‘Intelligent’ Mirror is making a race of it with The Sun for the first time in a decade

By Dominic Ponsford

The Daily and Sunday Mirror unveiled new looks this weekend as, for the first time in at least a decade, they appear to have the wind in their sails and are making a real race of it with The Sun.
The new look for the Mirror emphasises a plan to position the title as the "intelligent tabloid".
But at the same time the titles do not appear to be taking themselves too seriously, as evidenced by the fact that group editor Lloyd Embley's letter to readers introducing the changes is interspersed with a series of cat GIFs for the benefit of online readers.
He wrote: "What makes the Mirror difference is our passion for setting the news agenda…
"We want to infom and analyse – not just titillate, because there's one think that really makes the Mirror stand out from the tabloid crowd…
"We have a brain and know our readers do. We are the intelligent tabloid."
Old look Daily Mirror:
New look:
The result of the redesign is a slightly more serious look, which Embley told the Independent was mainly aimed at addressing complaints that the old look was difficult to read:
"we have tried to address that with more conventional body type and a more muted colour palette that will still keep the energy of a tabloid.”
The redesign is backed by a seven-figure marketing campaign with the slogan #madeuthink and it comes at a time when the Mirror is looking increasingly competitive with The Sun.
It is helped by the fact that the weekday price disadvantage for The Mirror versus The Sun is, at 10p, much narrower than it has been in recent years. And Mirror bosses clearly sense a stong online opportunity created by The Sun's decision to put all its digital content behind a paywall.
The Sun went behind a paywall at the start of August and the Mirror has already benefited from a surge in traffic as a result of the move – more than doubling its global monthly 'unique browsers' year on year to 34.4m a month.
As long as I can remember The Sun has dominated the Daily Mirror in circulation terms, editorial firepower, ability to buy up stories and marketing might.
Suddenly, the Mirror appears to have the momentum.
The Sun has staked its digital future on readers' willingness to pay for near-live Premier League football clips with a £20m deal across The Sun, Times and Sunday Times. But if that doesn't pay-off I wonder how much money it has left in its war chest for other marketing wheezes?
The Sun has been under increasing pressure over its continuing use of topless models thanks to the surprising success of the No More Page Three campaign. So far some 120,000 have signed the petition, with the Girl Guides and the National Association of Headteachers among those to give the campaign their backing.
Mirror bosses evidently see this as a weak point for The Sun, as emphasised by today's Mirror ad parodying Page 3.
Meanwhile the police investigations stemming from the News of the World hacking scandal continue to take a heavy toll on The Sun. Some 14 Sun journalists have been charged, versus only two former Mirror journalists so far.
The fact that The Sun's journalism is only available now to paying subscribers and newspaper buyers could bolster print circulation. But the early indications are quite the opposite, sales of The Sun fell 9.8 per cent to 2.3m in August versus a year on year rate of decline for the Daily Mirror of 3.9 per cent to keep it just above one million that month (though it is worth noting that when 30,000 free bulk copies of the Mirror are taken out of the equation its paid-for sale fell by a less flattering 7.1 per cent year on year).
All in all the race for tabloid readers has suddenly got a lot more competitive.

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