Media: All about ... Has Crozier got ITV talent?

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 05 February 2010 12:00AM

Alasdair Reid assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the new ITV chief.

ITV's chairman, Archie Norman, has turned to the Royal Mail boss, Adam Crozier, to take the broadcaster forward as its next chief executive. Norman may well have created a double act destined to be as successful as Ant & Dec or Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan on Britain's Got Talent. Yet Crozier faces at least ten key challenges, which we take a look at here, using ITV's own Britain's Got Talent scoring system to determine his ability to tackle each issue.

1. Charismatic leadership

Crozier's task is to follow Michael Grade - a man who is simply the most charismatic broadcaster of his generation.

Will the staff file down to the lobby to applaud him in on his first day, as they did Grade? No, they will not. On the other hand, there may be compensations. If Crozier's tenure at the Football Association (2000-02) is anything to go by, the management corridors at ITV may begin crackling with sexual tension. Under his leadership, thrusting Lothario Sven-Goran Eriksson was appointed the England manager, creating excitement among its female employees.

Crozier's Got Talent rating: 1 out of 3

2. The board

From an advertising perspective, the interesting angle will be Crozier's relationship with Rupert Howell, ITV's director of brand and commercial. Both men ran advertising agencies in their previous lives - though Howell, as one of the founders of the 90s agency of the decade, HHCL & Partners, has more iconic status in this regard. What's more, Howell had hopes of landing the top job until they were dashed by Crozier's appointment. There's also the question of the interim chief executive, John Cresswell, who had entertained similar ambitions.

No-one reaches the top in business without being able to manage this sort of scenario - and Crozier, who's hardly a dangerously sensitive egomaniac, is quietly effective in this regard.

Talent rating: 2 out of 3

3. The City

Routine communications with the City - and indeed the financial press generally - could be better. ITV benchmarks itself against far more successful rival organisations. But compared with, for instance, BSkyB, it is hopelessly outgunned. This is an area in which Crozier, an expert in streamlining declining businesses, excels. He can be relied upon to make changes within hours of arriving. And the City is ready to embrace Crozier because he has a track record of focusing on cutting costs.

Talent rating: 3 out of 3

4. Regulatory matters

Although there are many issues on ITV's regulatory agenda (minutage, for instance, and product placement), there is a clear priority here - winning a concession on the Contract Rights Renewal restrictions that cap the price of ITV airtime.

Grade arguably made a hash of this issue by publicly stating the importance of winning concessions and then actually achieving very little. Crozier can be relied upon to be more forceful in putting the right arguments in front of the right people. In fact, the word is that this is already happening.

Talent rating: 3 out of 3

5. Production

The big question Crozier faces here is about the future direction of ITV Productions, which accounts for a decreasing share of ITV's audience delivery - it makes the likes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale but not the big talent shows on which the network now relies. Should Crozier seek to reverse that trend?

Crozier is no great strategic thinker in this area; but neither the City nor the creative community will be overly worried about this - provided there's a belief that Crozier is willing to listen.

Talent rating: 1 out of 3

6. On-air talent

The character of a broadcasting brand tends to be defined by a handful of faces. A Cowell, for instance, or a diminutive Northumbrian double act.

If Crozier wants to begin with a bang, he will be tempted to take out the chequebook and make at least one big marquee signing. A Jonathan Ross, for instance. Remember Sven? On the other hand, remember Sven?

Talent rating: 1 out of 3

7. Scheduling

In the past, incoming ITV bosses were confronted with scheduling black holes, with the network taking a real caning on Saturday or Sunday evenings. Crozier faces no such problem.

Longer term, though, he'll have to listen very carefully to what his programming lieutenants are trying to tell him.

Talent rating: 1 out of 3

8. Marketing

For the past four-and-a-bit years, ITV has boasted a rather fine marketing director in the figure of David Pemsel. Last year, he came up with a strong branding campaign centring on a sumptuous film called "the brighter side".

This is one area where ITV is strong and likely to get even stronger. Crozier lives and breathes the power of the brand.

Talent rating: 3 out of 3

9. Advertising sales

When last employed in a mainstream media owner capacity (at the Telegraph Group in the 80s), Crozier was seen in some quarters as a major innovator, pioneering as he did an imaginative new form of arithmetic in which some of the depressing inevitabilities of classical mathematics were quietly ditched.

Crozier's many supporters maintain that past indiscretions may be ascribed to youthful enthusiasm rather than major character flaws. But ITV's sales teams will show nothing but respect to a man who knows their game.

Talent rating: 2 out of 3

10. Digital strategy

The central question Crozier faces is whether to aggregate or not to aggregate. Can ITV.com become a force on its own?

The issues he'll face here are not the same as at the Royal Mail. These days, you really do need to understand the underlying technological possibilities if you are to construct a meaningful strategy. It's not a deficiency that can be fixed by an afternoon's immersion within the pages of Wikipedia.

Talent rating: 0 out of 3.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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