Media: Double Standards - 'Thinkbox turned out to be a pleasant surprise'

Two heads of TV advertiser relations on clients: how to entertain them, making them think beyond spot advertising and their response to Thinkbox.

MARK TRINDER - HEAD OF ADVERTISER RELATIONS, ITV

- Do you think that TV is too commoditised to make it possible for clients to see beyond just spot opportunities?

I believe advertisers are more than capable of seeing "beyond the spot" opportunities and their value. However, I do agree that the current approach to airtime trading is in danger of stifling flexibility, creativity and longer-term partnerships. The transactional grouping of expenditure (spot or "beyond the spot") is leading to growing frustrations by all parties, and is not in the medium's best long-term interest.

- What has been the response from clients to Thinkbox?

The response so far has been very positive. On the event itself, the innovative format, strong and relevant content and interactivity was a pleasant surprise to many. The continued dialogue with senior advertisers and the website support have proven that Thinkbox is not just about a gathering once a year. It's a pity some of the trade press did not take such an objective view!

- Has it affected your ability to get in and see clients?

Thinkbox has created increased awareness of the medium, its challenges, opportunities and accountability. This has definitely resulted in more contacts and communication with advertisers and planners, and is assisting in raising the general knowledge base.

- Are you worried that eventually Thinkbox could make people like you redundant?

I actually believe that the opposite is true. Raising the profile of television, its role as part of the mix and the opportunities that are now available in the digital world will continue to lead to a better understanding and greater interest in the medium.

- How often do your editorial teams meet with your clients?

ITV Sales runs an immersion half-day, at least once a quarter, for an agency and their advertisers. A core part of these sessions is led by Nigel Pickard and David Bergg. On a day-to-day basis, through advertiser briefs, ITV Sales works closely with the programming teams. This is across a wide range of areas covering forward schedules, acquisitions and commissions, sponsorship, branded content, etc.

- What in TV is interesting clients the most at the moment?

Continued audience fragmentation, audience volume and profile, programme environments, beyond the spot, big ideas and properties that can live across many platforms, return on investment and transparency.

- What client entertainment event that you do generates the most interest?

One of our most popular events is the Parkinson show, followed by the National Television Awards and Comedy Awards. Many of our sporting properties also attract interest, but by far the most successful took place in Istanbul on 25 May 2005!

- What's the best thing about your job?

Not working weekends. Working with people with great skills, varied personalities and styles.

- Where have you been/are you going on holiday this year?

"Oop norf" and overseas.

- Which of your competitor stations would you most like to work at?

After 18 years as an advertiser and only six months working for ITV, I'm not in a position to identify another broadcaster with whom I'd like to work.

MIKE PARKER - HEAD OF STRATEGIC SALES, CHANNEL 4

- Do you think that TV is too commoditised to make it possible for clients to see beyond just spot opportunities?

The way all media is planned and bought is more commoditised than it should be. A brief look at the Thinkbox website, though, demonstrates how many excellent examples of creative buying and planning there are on TV.

- What has been the response from clients to Thinkbox?

Universally positive.

- Has it affected your ability to get in and see clients?

Getting to see advertisers is one of the hardest parts of my job. Thinkbox is another entry point, which is helpful.

- Are you worried that eventually Thinkbox could make people like you redundant?

Terrified, though I could always try to get a job at Thinkbox.

- How often do your editorial teams meet with your clients?

Channel 4 is fortunate that the sales and commissioning people are under one roof. We take many opportunities to bring the commissioning team and advertisers together.

- What in TV is interesting clients the most at the moment?

Sponsorship, interactive, advertiser-funded programmes, personal video recorders and, oh, er ... spots!

- What client entertainment event that you do generates the most interest?

Strangely enough, tickets for the Oval Test match were quite popular recently(£700 a pair on eBay).

- What's the best thing about your job?

Variety, variety, variety.

- Where have you been/are you going on holiday this year?

I have just enjoyed two weeks with my wife and four sons in a villa in Spain (Costa Blanca) and I am also looking forward to the Channel 4 sales conference in Southampton!

- Which of your competitor stations would you most like to work at?

I have had 13 fantastic years at Channel 4 - so I guess the answer would be none of them.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).