A new owner and the upcoming election have given The Independent an ideal opportunity to redesign, relaunch and, hopefully, reinstate itself back in the hands of the British public.
The new-look title has been overhauled to give it a more “serious” feel and introduced a comment supplement – “viewspaper” in a bid to woo back its lost readers.
To promote this redesign, the newspaper has not only invested in a large marketing campaign that will include outdoor advertising and possibly TV ads, but has also taken the drastic action of giving away up to 300,000 copies of the paper for free until 5 May.
From today, people in main cities, including London, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham will be able to pick up a free copy – albeit a scaled down version of the actual paper. Not stopping there, with the general election high on its “unbiased” agenda, people in marginal constituencies will be able to get a copy of the paper for free.
While it’s clear The Independent has to do something to turn its paltry sales figures around – it now sells, on average, just 97,807 copies on the newsstand a day – whether this is the right approach is questionable.
Will this burst of costly sampling activity end up damaging sales of the paper as customers become accustomed to it as a freesheet, and harming the independents who sell it, or could it provide the boost The Independent has been looking for?