MEDIA: HEADLINER - CIA's Mr Dependable looks to add a hint of intellectual flair. David Fletcher aims to work closely with Tempus Group companies, Ian Darby says

'I'm a very, very sad bastard when it comes to automation,' CIA's

new vice-chairman, David Fletcher, admits when explaining his devotion

to the more technical side of media research. Fletcher, who as CIA's

head of planning ran its MediaLab research arm, is taking on a wider

role for CIA and helping it to work closely with the other Tempus Group

companies.



Behind Fletcher's research background - he is an obsessive number

cruncher and devoted to improving the process side of CIA's operations -

lies years of media expertise. Before running CIA's research and

planning functions, Fletcher was head of radio and became one of the

leading research lights in this field. However, he now has to show a

wider range of skills, including leadership qualities, in driving CIA

forward.



Fletcher, who has worked at CIA for more than a decade, is part of the

new management team picked by its chief executive, David Wheldon. He

will work with fellow vice-chairman Richard Burdett and the managing

directors Tim Neligan and Andy Martin in attempting to resurrect CIA's

fortunes.



Fletcher will try to link CIA's planning resources with those of Tempus'

Added Value Group. The Tempus chairman, Chris Ingram, launched Tempus

Partners late last year as a way of linking media communications with

other specialist resources such as brand consultancy, digital solutions

and corporate identity services.



The idea is to offer clients a total solution. Fletcher will also work

on pushing the new CIA mantra 'media first' to clients. This seeks to

put media at the forefront of client thinking before the creative brief

is issued.



A quietly spoken man, Fletcher tends to ramble when making a point. He

confesses: 'I tend to lose where I am when making an argument.' His

elevation to such a senior role several years ago would be unthinkable.

While always being respected for his brain and research insight, it

would have been difficult to rise to the top of the CIA management chain

with the likes of Nick Manning, Colin Gottlieb and Mike Tunnicliffe

ahead of him.



However, much of CIA's middle and top management has changed over the

past decade, making it the right time for Fletcher's self-deprecating,

diplomatic management style.



Those who know Fletcher describe him as 'solid', 'trustworthy' and

'dependable'. Douglas McArthur, chief executive of the Radio Advertising

Bureau, says: 'David is a really thoughtful, research-driven individual.

He wouldn't let you down.'



He has a reputation within the industry as a good-natured,

Guardian-reading Christian but there is also a steely determination to

Fletcher. He graduated from Bristol University with a first in Physics,

something that has reinforced the 'Dr Fletch' persona. However, he was

intent on striking out for a career in media after deciding against

becoming a nuclear scientist.



Despite constantly being told he would never make a go of it, he

persisted, even producing a radio commercial ad himself, which he sent

to the top 20 agencies. Eventually he was offered a job by Allan Brady

and Marsh before moving to Billett & Company and then, as part of the

acquisition of Billett, to CIA.



So why has Fletcher stayed so long at CIA, even when everything was

falling apart around him? 'One reason was that I wanted to leave when

the business was going better than ever rather than going badly. I want

to leave a real contribution to the success of the business.'



Fletcher seriously considered leaving five years ago when he was

discussing a number of senior radio industry jobs but in the end he

elected to stay. Burdett says: 'I have never worked with anyone with

Fletch's ability to take dry research and information and turn it into

real insight on a day-to-day basis for clients.'



Some who have worked with Fletcher doubt that he has the managerial

clout to push CIA forward. However, as one former colleague says: 'David

grew up in the brash 80s and even more brash 90s when the likes of Nick

Brien, Paul Woolmington and Gottlieb were running things and were very

adamant about the way things should be. David's career suffered but now

there is a move toward intelligence and the creative end of things so

his time has come.'



Fletcher himself clearly feels that things have changed for the better

in media. 'What we do now is radically different to what we did ten

years ago whereas creative agencies tend to work in the same way.'



A likeable, dryly amusing individual, Fletcher is intent on turning CIA

into a more thoughtful and intelligent outfit. He will need plenty of

drive and steel if he is to achieve this.



THE FLETCHER FILE



1984: Allan Brady and Marsh, graduate trainee



1986: Billett & Company, media planner/buyer rising to associate

director



1992: CIA Media UK, board director



1993: CIA, head of radio



1999: CIA MediaLab, head



2001: CIA, vice-chairman.



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