MEDIA HEADLINER: An entrepreneurial risk-taker with a desire for cross-selling - Is Tim Bleakley the man to develop Emap's broadcast brands? Ian Darby reports

After four years sharing the mad, inspired world of Kelvin

MacKenzie, Tim Bleakley has landed on his feet in the slightly more

stable environs of Emap Advertising.



Bleakley, who left his role as the managing director of Impact Sales,

talkSPORT's sales house, little more than a month ago, is taking the

role of head of broadcast sales at Emap Advertising. He will report to

Dave King, who was recently promoted from that post to the managing

director role at Emap Advertising.



The exit from talkSPORT was swift but Bleakley denies rumours of a rift

with MacKenzie, saying: "There was absolutely no fallout. We did have

our differences at one point but we parted on very good terms."



Bleakley says the decision to leave Impact was taken after "an honest

conversation" with Mac-Kenzie, after which he decided to "take a

breather".



It seems that the rollercoaster ride had come to an end: "When I took

the job it was about riding the crest of a wave and constructing as much

as I could and learning from an incredibly fast-moving and high-octane

guy. Kelvin was very supportive and backed me to do pioneering things

but there is only so long you can work with Kelvin."



For a while it looked like Bleakley's fortunes would mirror those of his

beloved Manchester United, but any chance of a downward spiral has been

ended by Emap, which was waiting in the wings. The decision to leave

Impact might be seen as something of a risk, as was Bleakley's decision

to leave TV sales when he was an account director at the ITV sales house

TSMS four years earlier.



"There is method in my madness," Bleakley says. "There is an element of

the risk taker in me. I don't try to be unconventional but there always

comes a time when I won't run with the pack."



Bleakley's latest role is a challenging one for which the charismatic

Lancastrian is well suited. His radio sales experience is undoubted.

Although talkSPORT has found recent times tough, Bleakley presided over

a much-heralded, and awarded, sales team and developed big sponsorship

deals with the likes of John Smith's, as well as working on tasks such

as the marketing of talkSPORT's live football broadcasts.



Emap's nascent TV brands will prove more of a challenge. He says: "The

strength of Emap's brands and the way they are developing is exciting.

For some it's in the early stages and that's what I find most

exciting."



Bleakley has a reputation as an ideas man and is relishing getting stuck

into ways of cross-selling Emap's brands. Although he is passionate

about radio, he grew frustrated at talkSPORT because often radio was

just one part of a marketing strategy. Bleakley describes radio as a

"support medium" or the "medium of multimedia" - unthreatening to other

media because of its small share and flexible enough to fit into any

marketing mix. In light of this the Emap offer is enticing as it fuses

the radio brands with other properties.



So what can Emap Advertising expect when Bleakley arrives on 14

January?



"I like to create an environment in which people are comfortable with

the brand. I like to create a good argument with passion and energy. ITV

always used to lead with the deal and still does. This is not what I

enjoyed."



Bleakley's creative and bombastic approach could be a valuable asset to

Emap. There are signs that Emap Advertising is building momentum after a

slow start and Bleakley's double act with King will be vital to its

development.



Jerry Hill, the chief executive of Initiative Media, ran TSMS while

Bleakley was there. He says: "He's what I'd call an individual and was

always going to go on and do something more entrepreneurial. Of all

people at his level he was the most challenging. If I'd had 200 people

like that then I'd have been delighted."



Mark Palmer, a managing partner at OMD UK, says: "Tim is a brilliant

salesman. Lots of people are negotiators but he would always sell the

medium. I first encountered Tim when he was at Ulster and he was a rare

thing - he did it intelligently, and always talked to planners. He has

the imagination to do the Emap job."



In the meantime Bleakley is planning a holiday with his family - he has

two children with his partner Clare Durwood, the marketing director at

J. Walter Thompson, and another on the way. He is passionate and

knowledgeable about sport and as well as following Manchester United, he

has been to all of England's home football matches since 1996.



There is something of the maverick in Bleakley that made the blend with

MacKenzie a successful cocktail (six sales directors had bitten the dust

before he arrived) and agencies will continue to find him a challenging

presence.



THE BLEAKLEY FILE

1989: Ulster Television, group head

1992: TSMS, account manager to account director

1997: Talk Radio, sales controller

1998: Talk Radio, sales director

2000: Impact, managing director

2002: Emap Advertising, head of broadcast sales



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