'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
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
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
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
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
1992: CIA Media UK, board director
1993: CIA, head of radio
1999: CIA MediaLab, head
2001: CIA, vice-chairman.