Thanks to The Sun, for enriching each of our lives
This time, they’ve turned their sights on social media and ‘Britain’s most popular paper’ is claiming to be its pioneer with a new marketing strapline: “The Original Social Media”.
The newspaper that ‘gifted’ the United Kingdom with John Major in 1992 and destroyed its Liverpudlian circulation in 1989, will now be running a five-week campaign that will “show that The Sun’s stories influence conversations at home, at work and in cafés & pubs, online and across social media networks”.
Social media is based on networking, conversation and interaction with like-minded people. Twitter is, in essence, a place for you to have pub conversations en masse, the same for Facebook and the like.
So is The Sun genuinely trying to convince the world that pre-social media we wouldn’t have had such conversations without them? Would after work drinks in an alternate reality, where the paper never existed, be silent?
A press release, which launched on the News International Commercial website last Tuesday, featured on the Press Gazette website on Friday and, bar that, has had little-to-no attention.
Rob Painter, marketing director at The Sun explained in the release: “The Sun continues to fuel more conversations up and down the UK every day than any other media brand. That’s why we call it the Original Social Media.”
Paul Hayes, managing director at News International Commercial said in the release: “This campaign highlights that the reach of The Sun goes far beyond the printed and online versions of the paper and influences conversations – providing advertisers with the opportunity to connect with a truly engaged audience. The Sun brand is as relevant as ever today and will continue to be so.”
So before we attribute mindless chit-chatting – let’s face it, that’s what we do on Twitter, right? – as we know it to The Sun, let’s not forget the paper has, of course, a reputation for peculiar, and occasionally outright outrageous, claims.
In 1987, Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of the paper at the time, published a libellous front-page which claimed Elton John had had sex with underage “rentboys”. He also alleged that the pop singer had his dog’s vocal cords cut out to stop them barking and, therefore, keeping him awake at night.
John sued the paper for libel and was awarded £1million in damages. MacKenzie, always humble in defeat, was later quoted as saying that the singer hadn’t suffered any loss or damage as a result of the claims and therefore he should give the paper back its money.
MacKenzie again, in 1989, really outdid himself; this time being attributed to one of the biggest cock-ups in newspaper history.
Twenty-three years on from the Hillsborough disaster, which saw 96 deaths and 766 injuries to Liverpool football fans, The Sun still struggles to sell papers in Merseyside. Mackenzie, again, wrote the front-page splash headline ‘The Truth’, with three bullet points which read:
• Some fans picked pockets of victims
• Some fans urinated on brave cops
• Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life
The disaster was, of course, national news and covered live by every broadcaster in the country, yet no evidence to substantiate the claims was ever found. Mackenzie apologised for the obvious error in judgment in 1993 but repudiated it in 2006, claiming he only did so to appease Rupert Murdoch.
“I was not sorry then,” he said, “and I am not sorry now.”
The paper’s pretty demoralising approach to mental health and homosexuality has also been criticised.
At the tail-end of 2011, regular Sun columnist and all-round unpleasant presenter Jeremy Clarkson referred to those who committed suicide on train tracks as “selfish” because the “disruption it causes is immense”. As a result, the entire editorial team was forced to be retrained by Samaritans in the reporting of suicide after a large volume of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission.
David McGuire, creative director at The John Knowles Company said: “How long will it take someone to quip that, if anything, The Sun is the epitome of anti-social media?
“When people, who are clearly so astute do something apparently so naive, perhaps there’s a bigger plan.”
He added: “The more I think about it, the more I hope it’s a stunt.”
So please forgive me, The Sun, if I don’t quite agree with your new campaign or the arrogance you seem to perspire which allows you to claim to have invented conversation.
Perhaps the super-soaraway will next allege that its ‘Page 3’ girls inspired the internet’s second biggest commodity: porn.Tagged in: David McGuire, Jeremy Clarkson, Paul Hayes, rupert murdoch, The Original Social Media, the sun
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