The BBC's new director of marketing, Andy Duncan, does not look
like a former protege of Unilever.
Since graduating from university, he has spent 17 years at the fmcg
company, honing his marketing acumen before jumping ship to join the BBC
just as it grapples with plans to launch a series of new digital TV and
radio channels. His relaxed, easy-going demeanour and blue T-shirt seem
a million miles away from the dark shadowy walls of Unilever, which
likes to keep itself to itself.
Duncan admits that there might be some within the BBC who view him with
suspicion, particularly since in his first week he has managed to gain
control of promotional airtime across the BBC's platforms.
Previously this was handled across a number of divisions, but Duncan was
concerned that to maximise marketing opportunities and make on-air
promotions more effective, closer co-ordination was needed.
"There has been resistance in parts of the BBC, partly because there is
concern about creative freedom," Duncan admits. "I'm a great believer in
collaboration and teamwork. It's about marketing and communications
being partners with programme-makers. It's not about prescribing, it's
Collaboration is a key word in Duncan's vocabulary as he outlines his
plans for BBC marketing. He believes that, like Unilever, the BBC in the
past has been prone to focusing too much internally, and needs to think
more about its audience.
"My overriding headline is that the BBC is quite internally orientated,
so marketing and communications should be helping the BBC to become more
externally and consumer-focused, satisfying the licence-fee payers. This
means working with programme-makers, commissioning editors and informing
the front-end of the process with consumer understanding."
His dealings let Unilever show that Duncan is adept at rejuvenating
brands and taking a more radical marketing stance to make a product more
He appointed Mother, which came up with the award-winning and edgy
Supernoodles campaign when he was the marketing director of Unilever's
spreads, margarines and Batchelors brands, and was behind campaigns for
PG Tips, Olivio and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
Despite coming into the BBC to a roster of agencies (which include
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Fallon and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters)
appointed by his predecessor, Matthew Bannister, Duncan says he has no
plans to review the creative roster again. "As far as I can see, we have
three extremely good agencies. What is not yet clear is the allocation
of projects to different agencies."
Duncan is clear that what he will ask from agencies is groundbreaking
work that calls attention to the BBC's brands. "I would like us to be
seen to do some really great things more often and take more risks. Many
years ago Unilever was guilty of not trying to fail and being safe. One
of the things I will say is: 'it's fine to fail and fine to take