Media Forum: What do advertisers want from Trinder?

ITV has hired Mark Trinder from Woolworths as its head of advertiser relations. An inspired choice, Alasdair Reid asks. If things carry on like this, we will have to start revising our opinions on the ability of a leopard to have an evolutionary road-map strategy with regard to its spots. Because ITV, to cut a long story short, has just done something rather innovative and challenging.

When, in the wake of the Carlton-Granada merger, ITV began telling anyone who would listen that it had turned over a new leaf, some sections of the advertising industry responded with barely restrained guffaws.

In particular, the doubters pointed out that there seemed to be no diminution in the number of golf days being entered into the network's sales and marketing department diary.

True, a new broom appeared to be at work with the appointment of Justin Sampson as the network's first director of customer relationship marketing - an astute hiring, given Sampson's track record in a similar position at the Radio Advertising Bureau.

But the cynics were not exactly flabbergasted to hear the subsequent rumours that Sampson had, wait for it, begun taking golf lessons. In other words, he had clearly gone native.

Well, those cynics had perhaps better think again, because Sampson has just made his first major appointment and it could turn out to be rather an inspired one. His new head of advertising relations is none other than Mark Trinder, the head of marketing communications at Woolworths and the chairman of ISBA's television action group.

But how will advertisers take to the notion of one of their former colleagues in this important marketing role?

Andrew Constable, the head of media services at Coors Brewers, says that the company always had an extremely good relationship with Granada and this has continued as the company has become an ever more important constituent part of ITV. But more and better contact will not exactly be a bad thing. He states: "I would welcome it if ITV did more to sell the medium and where it sits within that medium. I want it to sell the rationale of using ITV."

Andy Bolden, the director of advertising services at GlaxoSmithKline, says that if you are looking to rebuild or change the focus of your marketing efforts completely, sometimes you need to bring in new thinking. He comments: "I think this appointment is spot on. It's exactly what many people on the marketing side would have done. ITV is, in effect, tapping right into the expertise of the very people it wants to talk to."

But he argues that what Sampson and Trinder do should remain semi-detached from day-to-day sales. "The approach has to be to bring in people who are completely focused and separate and delivering a bigger perspective than the people on the sales side.

"By dint of its share, ITV is still a brand leader - it is no different from a major advertiser with a portfolio of brands. Fundamentally, in that respect, it should organise itself as any other advertiser would," he argues.

James Kydd, the brand director of Virgin Mobile, agrees. Anything that breaks down the television industry's traditional ways of doing things has to be a good thing. He states: "We've always had a bit of an issue with ITV's lack of client understanding. It's important to get it thinking differently and to stop the whole thing being such a media luvvie-fest.

"It's interesting watching people move into that world from the outside - they quickly begin adopting the classic behaviour of the industry.

I suppose they are often just so pleased to be part of what seemed before to be such a closed shop. One of the dangers, of course, is that Trinder goes the same way."

Kydd hopes, though, that Trinder can bring a more practical approach.

He explains: "For example, people in general are very worried about personal video recorders and the impact they might have. But when it comes down to it, there is a dearth of real initiatives to confront the issue and I think that some people at ITV think that if they ignore the problem, it will go away. I would like to see them address this sort of issue more directly."

But David Walker, the media director of Kellogg, has no fears about Trinder going native and he argues that Trinder's background makes him ideally placed to address advertiser issues.

He states: "He can look at what ITV can offer in its totality - for instance, what it can offer in terms of programming and partnerships. And, in the multichannel environment, ITV also has more to talk about than just ITV1."

- "He's a bright bloke and will be able to give both the client team and the sales team a greater understanding of the context of advertisers' concerns. He will be able to tell them: 'They are behaving like this for these reasons.' As long as they listen to him, of course." - Andrew Constable head of media services, Coors Brewers

- "He will give ITV the ability to articulate what it has that can fulfil advertiser requirements. He will also bring a little realism. ITV is selling itself as a multimedia platform but uptake may not be as quick as it would like and it may not understand why that might be." - Andy Bolden director of advertising services, GSK

- "Because of the fact ITV does agency deals rather than client deals, it feels we're at one level removed from any of this and that we're not the people to talk to. Whereas, in fact, more imaginative approaches might well come from the client side rather than the buying side." - James Kydd brand director, Virgin Mobile

- "Hopefully, he can open ITV up to be more flexible. Advertisers will be looking to fit in (spot ads) better with their timelines, linking with on-pack promotions and in-store activity. Lead times are too long. With his retail background, Trinder will understand that." - David Walker media director, Kellogg.