Gavin, who is currently overseeing a pitch for a £10 million piece of BT's main creative advertising business, will take up his new position as head of the BBC's commercial arm on 1 July. Upon Gavin's arrival, Bob Phillis will relinquish his role at BBC Worldwide to concentrate on his responsibilities as deputy director general of the BBC.
John Birt, director general of the BBC, said: "Rupert Gavin's experience in creative production, communications, multimedia and retailing make him perfect for the job. We are delighted to have attracted to the BBC such a substantial and uniquely experienced figure."
Gavin, who will become a member of the executive committee of the BBC, will oversee the BBC's fast expanding commercial activities.
A former Saatchi & Saatchi executive, Gavin joined BT in 1994 as director of Internet and Multimedia Services. He took over as managing director of the consumer division in October last year and in January BT advertised for an agency to work on a slug of its consumer creative account for the first time since Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO landed the main account in 1994.
It is unclear what effect his departure will have on the pitch, which involves M&C Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Duckworth Finn as well as AMV.
BBC Worldwide currently has revenues of £354 million. In 1996-97 it made a net contribution of £73.5 million to the BBC, supplementing licence fee income.
Its main areas of income are publishing, programme sales and the development through joint ventures of new channels and media. Most recently it has signed high profile deals with the Discovery Channel and Flextech.
Online it has created Beeb.com in partnership with IT firm, ICL.