The Daily Mail doesn't know what it is yet, but it does know that America is an untapped market they want to tackle head on by going after the boring, stodgy New York Times.
Yes, the notorious U.K. tabloid is looking to expand into the U.S. and compete for eyeballs with The Times, reports The Guardian's Mark Sweney. In fact, the website's publisher Martin Clarke took some shots at the Gray Lady during a recent meeting with investors. He said the Daily Mail peddled "all the news that fits to talk about," a play on the Times' century old slogan. That spirit is central to their ad strategy targeting an American audience:
Positioning it very differently from the print Mail titles in the UK, a US ad for the website says that papers like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal cover weighty news, but asks "how many of your friends discuss the Arab Spring at lunch?" Unlike them, Mail Online brings you "what you want to talk about. It's not so serious. And it's never more than you need."
The U.K. tabloid is fairly well known. They had 111 million unique visitors in February. Casually browsing their homepage right now shows a lead story about the royal family and more pictures of celebrities in bikinis than some skin-dedicated sites. It's easy to click on just about anything. Tina Brown is a fan. This is why she likes the site:
Every story is something you can’t resist. It’s about, you know, how your kids will get ADD if they eat, I don’t know, saffron rice. It’s just irresistible. So I read that. And then I go to the Sutton Cafe diner with Harry, and we sit and read our papers.
But it's not serious news, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination. Times employees are usually quick to defend their paper's honor. David Carr's brutal takedown of Vice's Shane Smith, as seen in the movie Page 1, is the thing of legend. At least one New York Times employee has fired back at the Mail publisher's assertions that the Times is dreary, important news no one should care about already. Staff social media editor Michael Roston responded to Clarke in a Facebook post:
But it's just tiring that the people who run the Daily Mail keep playing like they're involved in some sort of zero-sum game for visitors with our New York Times or our peers at the Wall Street Journal. "It's not so serious" you say about your web site. No kidding! That's why we're not competing with you. We're deadly serious about the news. We're for the tens of millions of people who don't really want to be friends with people who wouldn't discuss the Arab Spring over lunch.
Ouch. Hopefully more will chime in soon and we can get a good, old fashioned media war.
Clarification, 11:50 p.m. Monday: An earlier version of this post was structured so one may think "all the news that fits to talk about," is featured in an American Mail Online ad. It is not, and we've altered the story ever so slightly to make that clearer.