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Future of Media: Daily Mail charm offensive, Inside Dugout and TikTok threat


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

July 23, 2020 | 5 min read

This is an extract from The Drum's Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you'd like it your inbox once a week.

Future of Media: Daily Mail charm offensive, Inside Dugout and TikTok threat

Future of Media: Daily Mail charm offensive, Inside Dugout and TikTok threat

Welcome back. After another busy week in media, I'm happy to share another Future of Media briefing filled with lots of good stuff from The Drum.

Daily Mail: papering over the cracks?

Conservative newspaper the Daily Mail enlisted a top creative agency to help position it as a ‘powerful positive force’. Many titles are embracing marketing to sell subscriptions and alter perceptions, but the 124-year-old title's efforts inspired a bit more attention.

The paper’s detractors, to put it kindly, made sure I knew how difficult a brief the agency had. Expletives were shared. Some questioned why the newspaper was even 'platformed' by The Drum. It's a brand that stirs strong emotion...

Allan MacCaskill, marketing director of Mail Newspapers, made the bold admission that his team has historically let down editorial and is shifting from promotions to highlight its campaigning journalism. “Whatever you say about the Mail, it does do amazing things,” he said.

The campaign comes at a difficult time for owner DMGT, which announced that newspaper advertising revenue was down 69%.

New ad agency St Lukes will be listening to the market and informing the development of the product too – meaning maybe this is more than a marketing play - but it'll be informed by those who actually buy the paper.

TikTok block

Over in Singapore, reporter Shawn Lim has taken a look at the geopolitical and privacy issues facing the next hot media property, TikTok.

The looming eye of China's surveillance state hangs over the app, and so tensions and national bans are simmering, not least in the US. But consumers love it, and it’s courting top brands, many of which ditched Facebook this month.

Opinions differ on whether it'll survive the political pressure – but the youth content revolution inspired by it, Insta, Snap and others won't be going anywhere, no matter what happens.

Credit to Reddit?

Meanwhile, new US editor Kenneth Hein took a look at what Reddit has to offer brands following the launch of its marketing sciences team, led by Jack Koch, formerly of Spotify, LinkedIn and Electronic Arts.

Could it be enough to encourage marketers to give it a try? The Reddit community isn't hugely accepting of brands, and then there are its travails instilling brand safety.

As an index of passionate and engaged niche communities, though, it is second to none, and there's no reason why putting the right brand in the right place with the right tone couldn't work.

Dugout dependency

Before the pandemic, football media startup Dugout created video content for 120 of the world’s top clubs. Post pandemic, it became a critical business partner. Suddenly, engaging fans digitally and replacing the matchday experience became an existential concern, rather than a beneficial add-on.

I had an illuminating chat with its co-founder and senior vice president Sebastian Gray about the group’s trials in lockdown, touching upon the surge in value of archive content and its experiments in live-streaming and gamification.

Manc bank

Sam Ridgway, former head of social media at Unilad, approached me keen to talk about his newish hyperlocal social media publisher the Manc.

His belief in the next generation of social being more localised was an interesting concept. Since he's had a hand in shaping the current viral publisher culture, I asked him to share his views on the topic.

Manchester, the home of the LadBible, Unilad and now the Manc, serves as the spiritual birthplace of viral content – so if local social can't work there, it can’t work anywhere. Anyway, read here how he is growing that business.

Well, that’s this week’s round-up, if you missed last week’s, I’ve summarised the findings here.

If you've anything to share, a tip, a correction, a complaint, or if you just want to chat, you can get me at or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.

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