1. Steve Platt, the managing director of Carlton Sales.
All too rarely, a talent of breathtaking ability emerges to dominate
their chosen field for a generation. Even former greats of airtime sales
such as LWT's legendary Ron Miller must feel nothing but humility as
they pay homage to Platt's astonishing, almost uncanny, sales skills.
(Thanks again for the Champions' League tickets, Steve.)
2. Metro, especially the managing director, Mike Anderson.
Astonishing. Metro has actually been trying to sell advertising via the
medium of ... well, advertising media. Double-page spreads all over the
business and financial media. People will pull all sorts of stunts these
days to shift a bit of inventory. Which brings us to ...
3. NatMags, featuring the managing director Terry Mansfield.
Yes, that's right, Terry Mansfield. "Hasn't he retired yet?" asks a
reader with the initials DE, from Soho. No he hasn't. And what's more,
he's as mad as ever. Back in November, El Tel toured London media
agencies on a tractor, dressed as a bridegroom. His story was that he
was promoting Country Living's sponsorship of The Farmer Wants A Wife,
ITV's bucolic knocking shop.
4. Express Group newspapers, starring Stan Myerson.
The newspaper industry just wasn't the same without Myerson, who has a
reputation for being as volatile as a particularly unstable type of
nitroglycerine on a very warm day. Myerson and the Daily Express went
their different ways a couple of years back, but he liked his old job so
much he got his mate to buy the company. Media agencies immediately
fitted volume restrictors to their telephones.
5. Talking of which, we come to the Ghengis Khan award for sales
subtlety, which goes this year to the internet portal MSN.
One online buyer called up not so long ago with some business to place.
"I've already made my targets so I don't need your business," came the
response. "But I tell you what - why don't you try to make me an offer
that doesn't make me laugh." On another occasion, a senior media
specialist called his opposite number at MSN to find out why the portal
was causing his people so much grief. The conversation went something
like this. MSN: "We have something in common, don't we?" Specialist:
"Yes? What's that?" MSN: "You don't like us. And we don't care."
6. Carlton Sales again.
This time as personified by the chief executive, Martin Bowley. He's in
for no other reason than his astounding gift for winding people up.
Which is reason enough.
7. Granada's new sales boss, Graham Duff.
"Duffy" has, apparently, been touting himself around town as "the future
of ITV". Like it. But, being a West Ham supporter, he doesn't know what
Champions' League tickets are. Which is why he struggles to make seven
in the charts.
8. Channel 4.
"There's something very odd happening there," one media buyer reports.
"It used to be that they were just smug. Now they're more like, I don't
know, evangelical, born-again Christians or something. They act like the
chosen ones and imply you're extremely stupid if you refuse to listen to
their message of salvation. I was alright. Luckily, I already knew I was
stupid. I hope they're all going to be OK down there."
9. Justin Sampson at the Radio Advertising Bureau
He's doing a sterling job convincing us all of the merits of digital
radio. Unfortunately, his efforts are sometimes undercut by the tactical
activity of media owners. In the following telephone exchange between a
senior radio executive and Campaign, the executive held a radio to the
receiver and switched over to digital. Executive: "There. Can you hear
the difference in quality?" Campaign: "Not down the other end of a
telephone line, I can't." Executive: "Oh yes. Yes I see." Campaign:"I
have a CD player at home, is the quality a bit like that?" Executive:
"Yes! Yes it is! That's it exactly!"
10. Flextech and its ad sales director, Mark Howe.
Flextech makes the list because (sorry) it's actually very, very good at
what it does, which is selling TV both on a day-to-day basis and also
with reference to the digital, convergent, multi-platform picture. Which
is nice. Hardened time buyers don't really know how to deal with it.