The Daily Mail was first published on the 4th May 1896 by a journalist called Alfred Harmsworth. He wanted it to be like the newspapers that were available in the USA at the time it was first launched. One immediate effect it had on sales is that it cost only half a penny, which was half the cost of other newspapers that were sold for one penny. Some of the first slogans used to plug the paper were headlines like, “A Penny Newspaper for One Halfpenny”, (www. spartacus. schoolnet.co. uk/Jmail. htm).
This would have appealed to many people because at only half the cost people would see it as a saving, because why pay more for something when you can get it cheaper and it provides the same if not more information as any other paper. Not only that it appealed to people whom had little time and wanted to get a quick review of the news of the day as it was only eight pages long, “The Busy Man’s Newspaper”, (www. spartacus. schoolnet. co. uk/Jmail. htm).
The Daily Mail was the first newspaper that had something for everyone; it contained information on fashion for women, sport news for enthusiasts, cookery and many more aspects. It was the most versatile paper at the time in a very easy readable form and short being only eight pages long. Comparing this to other newspapers at the time it was for the new generation that any person could enjoy at half the price. By having all these new areas to the read it widened its potential market and because at the time other papers were very formal and identical it gave itself an edge over competitors in the market.
One of the most important inclusions to the paper could have been the information on fashion and cookery as in those days the women were merely thought of to look good and stay at home, look after the children and cook for the family unless you were wealthy then you would have a maid whom did the chores. However this wouldn’t have affected sales because even the wealthy women would most probably have bought the paper for its content on fashion, as the main priority for the wealthy women was to look nice in order to attract male attention.
The paper also had aesthetic quality, which might have counted towards its success. It displayed a large headline that read right across the front page from left to right so when people were choosing a newspaper this one would have caught their eye, drawn them in to have a browse of the story on the front page, which may then have resulted in them buying the paper. Then once they have bought the paper they would obviously read it front to back allowing them to all it has to offer.
Success could also have spread by word of mouth as generally in the media when you see something you like or that is interesting, you would talk about it to friends and colleagues, this resulting in the good word of the paper spreading causing more and more people to buy it over other options. Another dramatic reason for its immediate success was that Harmsworth introduced stories or “serials” as you would call it that he himself personally edited.
This was a very long outtake spanning on average over 100,000 words that followed on from one another day by day until the story was over, from which a new serial would begin. This must have appealed to many housewives sitting at home bored at times during the day as there was no T. V or telephone so this would be their method of passing time or giving them a break from the daily chores around the house.
Alfred Harmsworth was even more fortunate because soon after the publication of the Daily Mail only a few years later the 2nd Boer War erupted between the British and Dutch (Boer) settlers in Africa. The British being the patriotic people they are wanted to know exactly what was going on in Africa and Harmsworth capitalised on this opportunity by stating that his paper should be bought by all British citizens for nationalistic reasons claiming that it represented “the power, the supremacy and the greatness of the British Empire”, (Julien Patley, Newspapers and Magazines).
This ploy tactic encouraged sales of the Daily Mail and Harmsworth saw the circulation of his paper top the one million mark, even before this in the early stages of publication it was already selling 500,000 copies a day. As the world entered the 20th century and inventions such as the telephone, electric light and photography began to take shape Harmsworth got in their first with his paper to plug these ideas and deploy them to the general public along with the creations of motorcycles and motor cars.
Because these were inventions that would affect and even change the world forever almost everyone wanted to know about them and as he was first to publish news about them he achieved the most successful sales. The popularity of the Daily Mail grew day by day and Harmsworth knew that the next step forward was to capture the next idea in human invention, which was avionics.
So in order to aim this idea at a mass audience he hired two of the best journalists, Philip Gibbs and Henry Hamilton Fyfe and offered a large sum of money to whoever could fly across the English Channel and from London to Manchester in one flight. But he didn’t stop there; Harmsworth himself helped the increasing success of his newspaper by having 10,000 copies delivered by military trucks to British soldiers on the Western Front during the 1st World War. This was a guaranteed 10,000 copies that would be read everyday for as long as the war continued.
During the war back in Britain the public wanted to know all the details of what was going on in Germany so to capitalise on this opportunity he used the story of soldiers whom were at the front line of battle as news sources in order to sell more newspapers and succeed his rivals. This could be seen as an unethical way to sell more newspapers than your counterpart but I personally believe Harmsworth didn’t seem too bothered because people wanted to know what was happening and he gave that to them, and maybe if he hadn’t it might have jeopardised the success of his newspaper.
Even after the war to ensure the Daily Mail stayed on top he offered money to soldiers for their stories about personal experiences in the war. In contrary to this he did seem to be pro-active for a better and healthier British population, by encouraging people to switch from eating white loaf bread to wholemeal loaves, which helps develop “better teeth, stronger bones, steadier nerves and a greater natural immunity against disease if the people of England will discard the present white loaf for a more wholemeal bread”, (Julien Patley, Newspapers and Magazines).
How did this help the success of the paper, well for the house wives whom read the paper might take note of what is being said by the journalist and opt for the healthier loaf, this idea may hopefully show that the paper has views on being and developing a better society for the present and for the future so will in turn attract more sales as people might feel that the paper has lots of useful information to offer. During the Boer war, this period was probably where his paper excelled towards the success it became. The Daily Mail set up a charity called the “Absent Minded Beggar Relief Corporation.
The funds from this charity were to help the “fighting man himself”, (Rudyard Kipling, Absent Minded Beggar), of whom many were the readers of the paper. The objective of the funds raised by the paper was to offer drinks and clothing to soldiers and their families on their return to England. The effect of this touched the readers and showed the paper had compassion, which inspired donations from the readers. This showed it was the most reputable charity at the time and all this did nothing to the paper but raise its profile.
To conclude there were a handful of factors that affected the sale of the Daily Mail allowing it to be a very successful paper almost immediately after being publicised. One of the most important factors was perhaps the price, everyone likes things that are cheap and it definitely was the case with the Daily Mail as it did prove to be a “cheap and cheerful” newspaper that everyone could get the most out of. Harmsworth used clever tactics in seizing opportunities to capitalise on the growing success of the paper by using the rise of inventions to help more people buy the paper along with the inclusion of what women might want to read.
This was ingenious as by doing this he had broadened his market straight away, which leads to an increase in sales as women from both wealthy families bought the paper for its fashion content and women from perhaps a working class family would have purchased a copy for its cookery section. It seemed to prove very popular in the working class region as it was far more affordable than the usual “one penny” newspapers. Harmsworth gave the readers of the Daily Mail a wide choice of categories to choose from when reading his newspaper as it had information on all types of news.
In aiding the success of the Daily Mail was the fact that it struck lucky because at the time of its launch it was easy to identify gaps in the market and Harmsworth saw this as an opportunity for his paper to fill these gaps and offer the readers what they want in the form of the Daily Mail. Also on top of this the world was entering a new era as it stepped into the 20th century where technology began to flourish by which he was always relaying to the readers of the paper hence increasing sales and becoming ever more successful.
The outbreak of the Boer and First World War were tremendous events that could have happened in the eyes of the Daily Mail and its drive to success. Harmsworth saw this and used his innovative business mind to show the events from true eyes of the soldiers as well as setting up a successful charity that drew in even more and more readers to encourage donations reflecting the compassion of the paper therefore helping it to be most popular newspaper at the time.
Bibliography: Patley, Julien Newspapers and Magazines Kipling, Rudyard Absent Minded Beggar