CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: PROFILE - TIM LEDGARD. Talent and ethical vision lend authority to Online’s new man. BBC Online’s new head of marketing is not what you expect, Richard Cook says

By RICHARD COOK, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 December 1999 12:00AM

Tim Ledgard helped develop the first doggie toothbrush, and, at the moment, only occasionally ever uses the internet. He is, he cheerfully admits, an unlikely new-media evangelist.

Tim Ledgard helped develop the first doggie toothbrush, and, at the

moment, only occasionally ever uses the internet. He is, he cheerfully

admits, an unlikely new-media evangelist.



What’s more, Ledgard has never worked for a media or internet

company.



His time has been spent entirely in FMCG marketing. He worked in dog

snacks, then in confectionery, both at Mars Pedigree, and latterly for

Duchy Originals, the top-end, mostly organic product range made under

the aegis of the Prince of Wales.



Yet Ledgard has been hired as the new head of marketing at BBC Online,

the most visited website in Europe. And listening to this engaging man

outlining his credentials, he soon begins to look like exactly the right

man for the job.



’It’s true I don’t have any media experience, but there is real breadth

to the experience I have in marketing,’ he says. ’And, to my mind,

marketing consists of understanding what the consumer is looking for and

then looking at ways of delivering it to them. That’s what I’ll be doing

at the BBC.



The product I’m dealing with at the BBC will be radically different to

what I’m used to, but hopefully I can learn all about it from the talent

there. And, hopefully too, I will be bringing something different that

they can learn from as well.’



Refreshingly, Ledgard is not somebody looking to the internet as his

passport to The Sunday Times’ Rich List. And, given the BBC’s reputation

for a certain parsimony in its pay, that’s probably no bad thing. In

fact, he identifies two quite different factors that initially attracted

him to the job.



The first was an hour spent in the persuasive company of the woman who

will be his immediate superior at the corporation - Sue Farr, the

director of BBC public service marketing. The second was the fact that

he would be continuing to work outside the private sector, with an

institution for which the bottom line is not entirely financial.



’The BBC is still a corporation and I like that. However competitive it

has to be in today’s marketplace, it’s still not like taking a job at

Sky,’ Ledgard says. ’In a way, I felt that it was a continuation of my

public sector work.’



His interest in public service developed during a year spent travelling

overland to China with his then partner, also a former Mars

marketer.



’When I got back to the UK in Christmas 1997, I took some time off just

to build kit cars and to catch up with friends and purposefully didn’t

rush back into a marketing job for a big corporation,’ he says.



’And when the head-hunter rang about the Duchy Originals position, it

seemed like an opportunity to combine lots of things that had become

interesting to me - charity, environmentalism and the organic market.

And the thing about the BBC job that attracted me most was the fact that

this was an opportunity to work for a public service institution.’



Ledgard’s CV certainly makes for impressive reading, even if it doesn’t

run as smoothly as some of his contemporaries’. He took his year off to

go travelling at the relatively late age of 32, for instance.



But what’s perhaps more remarkable is the fact that, having backpacked

his way across land to China, he then headed for the nearest department

store, bought something halfway decent to wear and went to see the old

Mars colleague who was running things in Beijing. He quickly landed the

job of running the marketing department in China, turning it from a

dollars 40 million operation to one worth dollars 60 million in the nine

months he stayed there.



Ledgard won’t be drawn on plans for BBC Online but explains that he will

be in charge of internet and interactive TV marketing at Online, that he

has to oversee its next stage of growth, that he has nothing at all to

do with the commercial online service, beeb.com, and that his remit is,

for the moment at least, UK focused.



’The task facing me at the BBC obviously isn’t anything like Beijing or

the rebuilding I did at Duchy Originals, because this is already the

biggest website in Europe, but it is the fastest moving part of a

corporation that is changing rapidly all the time, and change is

something I am familiar with as an FMCG marketer.’





THE LEDGARD FILE



1986: Brand manager, Thomas’ Petfood



1991: European franchise manager, Mars Confectionery, Germany



1993: Group brand manager, Mars Confectionery



1995: Travelling overland to China



1996: Marketing director, Mars Confectionery, Beijing



1998: Managing director, Duchy Originals



2000: Head of marketing, BBC Online.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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