Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When Two Tribes Go To War

A publishing battle is brewing in the exclusive confines of chic Double Bay as a new publication-Latte Life finds itself in the firing line of the established Wentworth Courier.

The Courier, published for over 70 years has always jealously guarded it's Eastern Suburbs market with a near monopoly on the rivers of gold in classified  and real estate advertising.

Each week the Courier thuds on resident's doorsteps with pages packed with glossy adverts for everything from an affordable Cloveley bungalow to harbour side mansions selling for tens of millions of dollars.

Latte Life  burst on the scene 3 months ago when publisher Jane King decided that Double Bay needed it's own publication concentrating on the cafe life of the fashionable suburb. Jane believes The Bay has been neglected and that the Courier has gone in too top heavy promoting  the giant Westfield shopping centre in Bondi Junction which she believes is strangling business in the village type atmosphere of Double Bay.

"I was brought up in England and always loved High Streets and village shopping centres" says Jane. "I spotted a gap in the market with Latte Life and the response has been fantastic".

Now columnists on Latte Life have suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of job offers from rival publiciations . It seems there maybe even more publications opening up in the area.

Goldberg :"30 years too late"
'Mr Double Bay' Graeme Goldberg , owner of Dee Bees one of the Bay's most popular restaurants has just started to write a column for Latte Life about the happenings in the area. With his impeccable show business connections it was a smart move on the part of Latte Life. Two days after his first column appeared  Goldberg found 3 representatives from an unamed rival magazine  in his cafe. They offered him a n increase in pay if he shifted to them to write a column.

Goldberg said "they were 30 years too lateThe Courier has always been very supportive of me and I love the new Latte Life but that's how long I've run businesses around here and suddenly I'm in demand everywhere !"
Other advertisers in Latte Life have found themselves approached by media salesmen suggesting better advert rates could be had with another publication if they wished to move their custom.

Over ten years ago the Courier had it's dominance of the area challenged when 20 real estate agents formed a syndicate and published the weekly Eastern Express with pages packed with classifieds. Soon both were  in an advertising price war. But a court challenge  from the Express and a claim of 'predatory pricing' against the Wentworth Courier finished off the challenger. The Eastern Express lost the case and were landed with the debilitating legal costs.

Jane says she isn't worried. "I don't have real estate advertising or take escort service classifieds so I'm not really competing for the bulk of  the Courier's advertisers. And hopefully some competition will make the Courier up it's anti"

She plans to branch out with Latte Life and it's cheery mix of social snaps, gossipy stories and interviews with famous locals with it's present 20,000 copies a month and increase the paper's circulation area to outlying suburbs and take on the Courier with it's 50,000 weekly copies.

The market-Sydney's ritzy Eastern Suburbs contains the biggest concentration of Australia's wealthiest citizens along with a huge swathe of  young professionals, wealthy retirees, gays and lesbians and those working in the arts and the movie industry. It's a marketer's dream target so much so that  the London School of Economics once used the Wentworth Courier in it's lectures to students as an example of a newspaper that was perfectly pitched to reach a specific audience.

There could be room for a third newspaper and locals would be the winners. Looks like an interesting battle  ahead.