Proles Embrace UK’s New Sunday Star; Nobs Boost Sunday Times

19 September 2002

At opposite ends of the social spectrum, two of Britain’s national Sunday papers both enjoyed a substantial boost last weekend.

New tabloid the Daily Star Sunday [sic], catering for celeboholics, sensationalists and the stunted of mind, beat all expectations – including those of its pornographer proprietor Richard Desmond – to sell over 800,000 copies on its first outing.

Meantime in the Royal Enclosure, NewsCorp’s Sunday Times, which targets the ABC1 socio-economic categories, upped its cover price by 16.6% to £1.40 ($2.17; €2.22) and amazed analysts and humans alike by increasing its sales by some 40,000 copies. Bets are being taken around the media parish pump that the ST will progressively raise its cover price, eventually taking it to £2.

The Sunday Star, a Sabbath rehash of the of the formula successfully peddled by its weekday sibling, was backed by a multi-million pound TV launch campaign, a free dance music CD, and an unsustainably low cover price that cut the ground from under its rivals.

Whooped Desmond: “The first week’s sales figures for the Daily Star Sunday show the power of the Daily Star brand. They also demonstrate the genuine demand that existed among readers for the new newspaper on Sunday.”

The undercut rivals were predictably less eulogistic: “Like its daily fare, it remains absolute journalistic bilge from start to finish,” hissed Piers Morgan, editor-in-chief of Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of competing Sunday redtops, the Sunday Mirror and the People.

But the coup de (bad) grace was delivered by upmarket non-rival, The Independent, whose columnist David Aaronovitch despatched the newcomer thus: “The Star, with its melange of leftovers from photo-shoots and PR mailshots, has managed an almost incredible feat: it actually markets a freesheet that costs 35p to buy.”

Despite all the sniffs from rivals and the intellectual elite, many media industry observers believe the Sunday Star is here to stay, citing the legendary US humorist S J Perelman. “Nobody ever lost money underestimating the American public.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff