Modal Britain - life outside the bubble
2017 Finalist

Modal Britain - life outside the bubble

Trinity Mirror Solutions

London, United Kingdom

Category Consumer Research

Overview of this campaign

Trinity Mirror is a UK news publisher with a unique portfolio of national, regional and local newspaper titles.  Like all news publishers, we face declining circulations and revenues in our traditional print business, alongside growth and new opportunities in digital, mobile and branded content partnerships.

But unlike most of our newspaper rivals, we represent the mass-market audience - which was a barrier to us being considered by many advertisers; a problem made harder for us by a portfolio (national & regional) that agencies found confusing and inconvenient and by the lack of a coherent proposition to link it with digital and branded content.  Alongside all this, we had legacy issues to address in the culture, structure and quality of our sales team.

The UK’s population has a long and strong tradition of reading national newspapers – a marketplace segmented into tiers known in the industry as ‘qualities, mids and pops’.  Our Daily Mirror title is in the lowest tier – a paper for working people: traditionally industrial and manual workers.  But our regional and digital audiences are growing and are demographically much wider. 

We needed to shake the ‘downmarket’ tag.  Our task was to build a research-led thought-leadership platform that showed that society is rapidly changing shape under parallel forces of recession and digitisation, and a valuable mass-market audience is emerging.  Agencies and advertisers had to wake up to this opportunity.

In the era of Brexit and Trump, it’s well documented that the political establishment lost sight of the experiences and changing views of ordinary people, but so did the marketing and agency world.  Since early 2015 we have been challenging media agencies to recognise the emergence of ‘Modal Britain’ (the people there are ‘most of’ in society) – not downmarket (and seemingly undesirable) but mass-market (and crucial for scaling communications and achieving brand growth). 

And we needed to make sure Modal Britain wasn’t a one-off piece of thought-leadership research, but the basis of an ongoing programme of engagement with our stakeholders.  

Results for this campaign

Modal Britain has been the consistent theme of all our stakeholder contact for the past two years; and a crucial element in step-changing our reputation in the media agencies and unlocking new revenues.

In spring 2015, ‘Welcome to Modal Britain’ was a 20-week roadshow around the UK’s 16 biggest media buying shops, featuring our sales leaders, editor-in-chief and the company CEO.  A smartphone-based quiz challenged attendees to demonstrate their knowledge of ‘modal’ consumers. 

The roadshow stimulated great feedback from the agencies (‘really resonated”, “Amazing feedback”, “interesting, insightful and useful”) and now 72% of agency people say we are ‘well-known’ there.

Modal Britain featured in Media Week’s 30th anniversary issue and with a topical General Election piece in Campaign.  Awarded Silver at the Media Week Awards in 2016, we created ‘Modal Britain’s Best’, a moment when we revealed the nation’s favourite ad from a poll of the shortlisted campaigns.

From scratch, we built Modal Mouthpiece, an online community of readers drawn from across our titles and platforms - now 5,500 members strong.  We’ve investigated how Modal Britain experiences big sporting occasions, prepares for the festive season, feels about ‘community’ and Brexit.  A Mouthpiece study for pharmacy retail giant Boots helped win us the pitch for a significant editorial partnership; while our Modal Mouths (vloggers) have given agencies a direct glimpse into Modal lives and colourfully represented mainstream views in video form.

Further chapters in our Modal story have been shared with agencies and packaged into sales packs and infographics.

Modal Britain drove £2m incremental revenue for Invention, our content solutions hub, which has in 2016 handled over 200 briefs.  We’ve grown market share vs national newspaper market leader The Sun; and we’ve been consistently ahead of our regional sales rival Mediaforce, with 75% share.  Our digital revenue growth of 25% has outstripped our traditional publisher rivals.

Now in 2017, agencies and advertisers are turning to Trinity Mirror as the authority on what real people are thinking and feeling.


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