Media: Double Standards - Why 'no amount of puff can make a turkey fly'

The marketing chiefs at Channel 4 and ITV talk about what they want from their media agencies and the challenges posed by new technology and multichannel.

POLLY COCHRANE - DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, CHANNEL 4

- How much difference can a marketing campaign make to the success or failure of a TV programme?

Ad campaigns raise awareness and send out a signal that the broadcaster thinks a particular show deserves special attention. The stronger your brand, the more credibility these messages have. But people will look for independent endorsement of a programme before firming up an intention to view. So marketing is nothing without great press and publicity and ultimately great programmes. No amount of puff can make a turkey fly!

- How closely do you work with the commissioning and programming teams?

Very. Calibrating the marketing and PR support to the potential of a programme (particularly one we haven't seen) is one of the hardest things we do. It requires a very honest and open relationship with commissioning and a shared understanding of the brand. Advertising has to project accurately the sensibility of any given programme to avoid setting false expectations.

- What has been your toughest challenge in the past 12 months?

Getting my head round the role of channel brands in an increasingly on-demand world. Working out who the "celebrities" were on Celebrity Love Island came a close second.

- What do you look for in a media agency?

Expert knowledge of the rules with a reluctance to abide by them. Not too much PowerPoint. And total servility. The combination of Michaelides & Bednash, Naked and OMD delivers this.

- How will new technology - such as broadband, video-on-demand and interactive advertising - change the role of the marketer?

As far as marketers are concerned, new technology opens up new ways of talking to consumers, which can only be a good thing, particularly when it affords an opportunity for more engagement and measurability.

- Is the reality TV format running out of steam?

There's a three-word answer to that. It starts with George Galloway and ends in a leotard. I think the term "reality TV" is now used to cover such a mixed bag of genres though that it's almost meaningless as a term. The ultimate in reality TV is the news, after all.

- What makes an effective programme sponsorship deal?

Strategic fit between the brand and the programme. Creative needs to be empathetic with the programme, engaging and original and either contain multiple executions or be able to withstand repeat viewing.

- What's the best thing about your job?

Having a telly on my desk.

- How difficult is it to promote your multichannel offering to consumers and what have you done to make it easier?

We've made it easy for ourselves by having very clearly defined, complimentary channel offerings that enhance and expand key Channel 4 reputations. Each digital channel knows which audience it is super-serving and is allowed its own distinctive personality.

- Which TV programmes do you hate to miss?

The West Wing, Grand Designs, Shameless, Green Wing, Lost and (bugger the brand loyalty) The X Factor and Planet Earth.

- What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Architecture and design. My children. The latter can be a serious impediment to pursuing the former.

CLARE SALMON - MARKETING DIRECTOR, ITV

- How much difference can a marketing campaign make to the success or failure of a TV programme?

Plenty, if marketing is fully integrated into the programme and not tagged on to the end of the process like lipstick on a pig!

- How closely do you work with the commissioning and programming teams?

As closely as hygiene allows.

- What has been your toughest challenge in the past 12 months?

Trying to persuade the world that it was ready for a wrestling revival of the celebrity kind!

- What do you look for in a media agency?

Creativity, commerciality, courage.

- How will new technology - such as broadband, video-on-demand and interactive advertising - change the role of the marketer?

We are all going to need a cool nerve to spot the real consumer benefits versus the obscure gimmickry. For good marketers, technology offers a bigger sweetshop and an even more pressing need for commercial literacy!

- Is the reality TV format running out of steam?

There's not a lot of sign of it, is there? Around 12 million people watched Carol Thatcher being crowned Queen of the Jungle and the series itself averaged 9.3 million - up a million on the year before. The best reality formats are based on human drama and that's a rich seam - like talent contests and quiz shows, they will continue to reinvent themselves for years to come.

- What makes an effective programme sponsorship deal?

The brands fit like star-crossed lovers: Coronation Street and Cadbury; Nokia and The X Factor.

- What's the best thing about your job?

Having the biggest shop window in commercial broadcasting.

- How difficult is it to promote your multichannel offering to consumers and what have you done to make it easier?

Probably a lot easier than it is for our competitors, given that 44 million people and 82 per cent of the population tune in to us each week at some point - giving us a great chance to flash a seductive ITV 2, 3 or 4 ankle.

- Which TV programmes do you hate to miss?

Supernatural, The Tour de France, Footballers' Wives, Foyle's War, The South Bank Show, Parkinson, The X Factor and Dancing on Ice.

- What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Latest purchases: another new horse, a couture frock and a holiday galloping across the Mongolian steppes with my daughter.

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