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Vans Checkerboard Day

News Review

By The Drum, Administrator

March 12, 2004 | 5 min read

small and perfectly formed? last weekend the scotsman launched its compact edition in an effort to woo readers, but will it work? The drum invited three experts to review the first quality compact Scotsman edition.

Designer’s Review

Graham Scott, Managing Director,

and Ian McIlroy, Design Director, Nevis.

Had we not been on a mission, we seriously think we would have overlooked this publication. The media awareness had created a need to go and buy but, reading papers over the weekend, you could argue that you don’t mind the broadsheet, as we all have the kitchen table to spread out on, with our filtered coffee and croissants – we have the relaxation time. So should this size change happen over the week? Should more consideration have been given to typeface and column and advertising layout?

Immediate reactions – looks like the broadsheet format has simply been scaled down in proportion rather than adapted to tabloid format. Front-page recessive, dull layout and lacking shelf impact when viewed alongside competition. Masthead is weak and consequently Scotsman branding suffers. Opportunity missed?

Internally, it is much better and follows existing Scotsman layout with typography adapted to six-column grid.

Compact format is fine and allows the content to be tighter and more controlled in its layout.

Why does the weekend supplement stay in broadsheet format? It looked odd – or did the Scotsman run out of time for its consideration of its layout?

You needed consistency in this new offer!

Overall, I quite liked the size but the front-page elements and masthead need serious thought and attention. It looks as if it hasn’t been considered and also placed and viewed alongside competitors. In our business of design and looking at brands and brand developments you have to look at competitors and also establish if what you have developed has a visual impact against competitors.

Although the overall reaction from the general public will be good, and the overall size will be the key to the potential success, it begs the question of whether the Scotsman has had a knee-jerk reaction following the Independent and has not given this new size and layout enough development time before launching.

Journalist’s Review

John Penman, Business & Finance Editor,

The Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail.

The tabloid Scotsman, and I use the word advisedly because my old paper, Business a.m., was a compact and the half-size Scotsman is not, made me do something very unusual – I bought it.

But that’s where the innovation stopped.

The front page was a mess, with too much text at the bottom and very little space to puff the important weekend package. The splash was lost and the front-page picture a bad choice. That’s less of a problem for a broadsheet but crucial to a tabloid.

The news pages, however, were bright and pacy, but I couldn’t help but feel they reminded me of something and then I got it – the Edinburgh Evening News. The tabloid Scotsman feels like a local paper, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the aim. There was too little variety and having foreign and local pages well after the leader page was positively bizarre.

The sports section worked very well though; much stronger looking than the broadsheet version and the features really stood out.

The Saturday choice is odd because it’s the one day when being a broadsheet isn’t a pain. Commuters want convenience when they are commuting so I’m not sure what the feedback will tell them.

That said, there’s no going back. You can’t make the product easier to use and then revert to awkwardness.

Despite pleadings that this is a revolution, I’m afraid it smacks of desperation. So, come on boys, why not go the whole hog and rename it the Wee Scottie?

Media Buyer’s Review

Anne MacLean, Research Manager,

Feather Brooksbank.

There is no doubt that tabloids – sorry, compacts – are the way forward. The Scotsman’s move to test Saturdays is good – people expect their weekend paper to be a more entertaining read and the paper feels extremely substantial and very much value for money. The index on page two is good: really clean and inviting. Not sure about the front page, which isn’t terribly appealing and the layout of the whole paper is definitely different. On the sports side, I would prefer a separate section rather than a centre pullout.

It does appear that there is a lot less colour in the main paper. Having five mono spreads together at the front of the paper makes it appear rather dull: or is this to give it gravitas?

Why leave @the Weekend as a broadsheet format? Is this to distance it from existing tabloids?

Putting West of Scotland news at the back seems like a real sop to Weegies: its previous position looked more of an integral part of the paper, now it makes it hard to argue that the Scotsman’s got national aspirations.

From an advertising point of view, the fact that there are more pages should lead to less stacking of ads – so what happened on page 10?

There’s no disputing the fact that the quality press has been hit hard in circulation terms, and the signs from the Times and Indie compact editions are promising. Top marks to the Scotsman for getting there first in Scotland.

Vans Checkerboard Day

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