Recently the Daily Mail ran an article on “The Man Who Hated Britain”.
The man was Ralph Milliband, father of Ed.
Ed Milliband will be standing against David Cameron for Prime Minster.
The Daily Mail supports David Cameron.
All fairly simple and obvious.
In advertising terms, hit the competition where they’re weakest.
Ralph Milliband was a communist so that’s where Ed is weak.
What’s dopey, in advertising terms, is not to check your own product first.
The problem is, the Daily Mail is considerably weaker in being portrayed as hating Britain.
The proprietor of the Daily Mail is Lord Rothermere.
Before World War Two, his grandfather was a supporter of Hitler and the Nazi party.
He applauded Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and suggested he invade Romania.
So he supported a dictator and mass-murderer.
But whatever Rothermere or Milliband did isn’t the real point.
The real point is the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre.
How dopey do you have to be to attack someone at exactly your own weakest point?
Of course it’s fair enough for the Daily Mail to have a go at Milliband.
That’s their agenda, that’s what newspapers do.
But you make sure of your ground first.
You don’t attack them on a point where you’re weak.
This is as dumb as Mars attacking Cadburys for making people fat.
Or Range Rover attacking Mini for wasting petrol.
Or Microsoft attacking Apple for having software that crashes.
Or McDonalds attacking Starbucks for being unhealthy.
Or Nike attacking Adidas for wasting money on celebrities.
Or China attacking North Korea for being undemocratic.
You don’t do it.
You don’t do it because it’s dumb.
You don’t pick a fight on ground where you have a disadvantage.
You change the ground to one where you have an advantage.
The Daily Mail could have done that.
Ralph Milliband was a passionate communist.
He supported communism even after the downfall of the USSR.
He refused to accept that people wanted socialism not communism.
Ed Milliband was influenced by his father.
He is determined to reintroduce union influence to the Labour party.
And union influence to running the country if he wins the next election.
That is where Ed Milliband is weak.
That is where the Daily Mail is strong.
That is the place any rational person would have chosen to pick a fight.
But Paul Dacre didn’t do that.
And as a result the country now sympathises with Ed Milliband.
The Daily Mail proprietor has had to publicly apologise.
Paul Dacre may well lose his job as editor.
And the whole question of formal controls on the press is being raised.
All because the editor made an emotional decision.
And he got what normally happens when you kick out without thinking.

An own goal.

  • john p woods

    That’s the line of attack ‘The Spectator’ are going with. http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/rod-liddle/2013/10/ralph-miliband-hatred-of-britain-sprung-from-his-marxist-beliefs/

  • Dave Trott

    As Punch said to Judy “That’s the way to do it”
    Whether you agree with Rod Liddle or not he is much more intelligent

  • Simon Guest

    Dave, what’s frightening is everything you have written is common sense. It’s about self awareness, knowing who you are and what you stand for. Surely newspapers should know how they are positioned relative to their competition, bearing in mind that they are continually fighting their ’cause’ or seeking to undermine opposing opinions and values. 

    • Dave Trott

      The Mail sells around 2M copies a day, they have over 4M readers, and 100M visit their site every month.
      No wonder Paul Dacre gets lulled into believing his job is solely to preach to the converted with constant polemics.
      Just like the Republicans in the USA, he’s discovering there’s another world that isn’t just his followers, and this comes as a shock.
      To find, like anyone in advertising, he has to deal in objectivity not subjectivity.

  • john p woods

    “We are of an opinion…” was the opening backpedaling line the DM trotted out. It would appear to seem that they are preaching to the converted but I think in addition to reinforcing their brand, through it’s interminable ‘style’, the DM have got the message ‘out there’ and that is where the undecided lie.
    When it comes to all forms of communication is there any advantage to getting a lie half way round the world before truth has got it’s boots on?

    • Dave Trott

      I don’t think the undecided will be buying The Daily Mail any more than the undecided buy The Guardian.
      Those two camps are already decided.
      The article about Milliband’s dad wasn’t actually a lie.
      But because Dacre was so dumb with the headline, it moved the debate beyond The Mail and into the greater world of the  genuinely undecided.
      And Milliband’s dad looks much better when compared to Rothermere’s granddad.

      • john p woods

        Maybe not a lie but perhaps expedient exaggeration? 

        I didn’t think the DM were throwing out that story to sell more newspapers but just to discredit the political opposition. I think they had a term for it in ‘All The President’s Men’. 
        I don’t disagree that it was cackhanded but maybe if they had gone down the old ‘unions are evil’ route it wouldn’t have gained the notoriety it has? Maybe the wider public will end up seeing the DM for what it is, I think they know already, but maybe the story about Milliband by association will stick and the DM will have won in the long run. A calculated risk? 

  • Jason

    Ha. I watched a Sky-pluss’d Dave Gorman show last night Modern Life is Good-ish). He brought up the time when the Mail were LIVID about the London Olympics having flags that were made overseas…and he then highlighted how their own online store sold Union Jacks made in China.

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