Richard Desmond has pulled it off.

Not as many might think, a feat connected with his top-shelf porno titles, but a sea-change in his public perception. These days he is increasingly seen as a serious newspaper proprietor rather than a louche interloper in a big boys’ game.

The transformation has been wrought by Desmond’s increasing commitment to Express Newspapers, both monetarily and managerially. His determination and toughness are also beginning to command a grudging respect.

All these factors are evident in his declaration Monday that in 2003 he will plough £50 million ($77.80m; €78.38m) into propelling his stable of national newspapers – the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the recently launched Daily Star on Sunday – into head-on confrontation with main rivals The Mirror and the Daily Mail.

According to reports, Desmond’s strategy will include TV advertising, promotions and another incursion into price cutting, a tactic successfully used by The Sun to increase its lead over competing tabloid The Mirror.

But fool Desmond is not. Declining to show rivals his hand, an Express Newspapers spokesperson refused detailed comment on his boss’s marketing plans.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff