MEDIA: HEADLINER - Times stalwart girds loins for fight with Saturday Telegraph. Camilla Rhodes is armed with a revamped weekend offering. By Anna Griffiths

By ANNA GRIFFITHS, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 December 1997 12:00AM

It’s her first week back at News International and Camilla Rhodes, deputy general manager and director of advertising at Times Newspapers, is ready - all guns blazing - for January’s broadsheet bloodbath, when everyone revamps, relaunches and inundates readers with the promise of more value than ever before.

It’s her first week back at News International and Camilla Rhodes,

deputy general manager and director of advertising at Times Newspapers,

is ready - all guns blazing - for January’s broadsheet bloodbath, when

everyone revamps, relaunches and inundates readers with the promise of

more value than ever before.



Rhodes has been away from the rough and tumble of the newspaper world

for three months on maternity leave, but motherhood has not dented her

competitive edge or ambitious drive. ’From a personal point of view it

is a change in your life, but from a business point of view it doesn’t

change anything.’ She is banging the Saturday Times Magazine’s drum,

keen to tell me about its rebirth on 10 January - the same day as the

Saturday Telegraph plans to unveil new sections and increased

pagination.



The Saturday newspaper market has been marked out as strategic turf by

the Times, which believes it is rapidly catching up on its rival in

Canary Wharf. ’We have been continually looking at the Times, and

Saturday, as we are all aware, is a battleground,’ Rhodes says. ’We are

not the highest in terms of circulation but we’re getting there.’ Rhodes

doesn’t like to say this will happen in 1998 but there’s a steely look

of determination as she considers the circulation gap that stands

between the two.



The Saturday Times Magazine will be of similar size to the Mail on

Sunday’s You, with glossy pages and pagination up from 60 to more than

100. The two main sections of the magazine - which focus on people and

lifestyle - will increase to three with a third concentrating on

ordinary people and experiences that have changed their lives.

Alterations to the magazine continue the changes to the paper; new

tabloid sections have been added over the past four months - Mega, Metro

and Vision. Rhodes says: ’It’s been a gradual transformation rather than

the Telegraph’s wholesale reordering.’



A night of partying, then waking up to feed baby Lauren, has made no

visible impact on the immaculately turned out Rhodes. Martin Bowley,

head of Carlton Sales, describes her as ’one of the most formidable

women in advertising - she’s earned her success on the back of her own

efforts.



And she’s the Posh Spice of media.’



Rhodes is a News International stalwart, having worked there since 1981

when she started as a sales executive at the Sun. ’I’ve been here a long

time but, like most people, if you want new challenges, you have to

change companies - here I have all I want under one roof. It will

continue to be challenging.’ Asked if she could only work in publishing,

Rhodes answers enigmatically: ’I can work in almost any part of our

organisation or, indeed, any other.’



Although Rhodes has held the position of deputy general manager of Times

Newspapers since April 1995, when the position of general manager became

vacant in August with the departure of Chris Maybury, Alisdair McLeod,

circulation and sales director of Times Newspapers and son-in-law of

Rupert Murdoch, took the post. Was Rhodes frustrated that the role fell

vacant when she was about to go on maternity leave - and that she didn’t

get the job? ’The past three years have been enormously stimulating.

It’s very much been a team effort - my role has been on the general

management side, so it has added a new dimension. We’ve put tremendous

effort into marketing initiatives, invested in the products and seen

improving sales on the ad front.’ She pauses and then adds: ’Of course,

it’s disappointing but the team is still in place and I’m in general

management now.’



Bowley, Rhodes’ neighbour in Barnes, tells how he spotted her in the

local chemist and banged on the window to say ’hello’ but received a

none-too-friendly look. ’She’s the record holder of frosty stares in

Barnes.’ He adds: ’She’s worked hard to put a line between home and

work.’



Perhaps she’s keen to separate the two because her husband, Clive

Milner, is the general manager of News Group. Avoiding the question

about whether they discuss work at home, Rhodes quips: ’There’s nothing

nicer than flopping down with Lauren and enjoying sensible conversations

about Rusks.’ I can’t help feeling that if I ask any more awkward

questions, she might whip out the baby’s dummy she carries around in her

bag and put it to better use.



THE RHODES FILE



1981: The Sun, sales executive



1983: Times Newspapers, sales group head



1985: Elle, ad sales manager



1986: The Sunday Times, ad sales manager



1988: The Sun, ad manager



1989: News Group Newspapers, ad director and appointed to News Group

board



1991: The Sun, commercial director



1993: Times Newspapers, group ad director



1995: Times Newspapers, deputy general manager.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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