THE Times: launching a £2m advertising campaign to plug its new six-section Saturday edition
News International is to slash a third off the cover price of its Saturday edition of the Times to £1 for a limited period as it launches a TV advertising campaign.
The temporary move is understood to be for an initial two weeks but could be extended beyond that. It will make the Times by far the cheapest quality Saturday newspaper and recalls the Times price war of the 1990s.
The price reduction forms part of a £2m advertising campaign to plug the new six-section Saturday edition of the Times, which launched last month.
The campaign will include outdoor posters and three weeks of television and radio ads that start today. The TV campaign will see three short ads run over a single break.
News International will also run a sampling campaign, distributing free copies of the paper with partners Marks & Spencer, Pizza Express, Picture House and the National Theatre.
"The reason we are doing this is because they are pleased with the relaunch that they want it to be trialled as widely as possible," a News International executive told MediaGuardian.co.uk.
"It is quite a step change from what we were doing before."
The decision to beef up the Saturday Times, which has traditionally been eclipsed by the Sunday Times, was taken at board level by News International.
Eleanor Mills, the new editor of the Saturday Times, was recruited by Times editor James Harding on the strength of her proposals for the relaunch, which included a broadsheet review section, a pocket-sized listings guide called Playlist and a revamp of the Saturday magazine.
News International believed that if it didn't beef up the Saturday Times, it would lose readers attracted to the Weekend FT and the Saturday Guardian.
The relaunched paper provoked a big response from readers, with more than 1,000 emails to the paper and the Feedback editor.
The price cut contrasts with News International's move last month to increase the cover price of its weekday edition of the Times by 10p to 90p.
Currently, the Saturday editions of the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Independent all cost £1.60. The Financial Times costs £2.30 on a Saturday.
After the promotion The Times is expected to return its Saturday edition to its current price of £1.50.