Paul Taylor is happy at the prospect of giving UK Gold a boost, Claire
‘Strap your tits down and don’t wear one of those short skirts,’ I am
warned before setting out to interview Paul Taylor. ‘This guy’s a master
of the double entendre, know what I mean?’
Paul Taylor, the new sales director at UK Gold, looks perfectly harmless
when we meet. Mind you, after a week like his, even the most robust of
personalities would be a little deflated.
In the past few days he’s had a juicy bonus from Channel 4 (where he was
client sales manager), handed in his notice (nice timing), started a new
job at UK Gold, been at the centre of a bomb scare and arrived home to
find his daughter minus the tip of one of her fingers.
And as if that wasn’t enough, he’s arrived at UK Gold in charge of a
team of sales execs who could, at this very moment, be scribbling their
own resignations. Taylor isn’t sure how many of his new boys will be
following their old sales boss, Nick Milligan, to the bright lights of
Add to that the lingering uncertainties about UK Gold’s move into a new
sales house with United Artist’s Programming’s satellite channels, and
Taylor seems to have made quite a brave decision.
The 37-year-old Taylor (‘the only man I know who looks better in
glasses,’ according to one pal) is sanguine about the whole business. ‘I
wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think this was a real, long-term
opportunity for me,’ he explains.
But how will Taylor fill Milligan’s cowboy boots?
Few would deny Taylor’s talents for driving business by the force of his
personality. ‘He talks a good game,’ one former colleague says.
‘He may not be a great numbers man, but he knows how to play by the
rules,’ another adds. ‘He can handle almost anything you could throw at
him - he might not always handle it brilliantly, but he’s rarely fazed.’
Mr Taylor, known as Big Fluffy, is a chameleon - easily adaptable to any
situation. For me he’s white, the consummate statesman. But for those of
you for whom this will be the only Taylor you’ll ever see, here’s a
glimpse of his blue side. For starters there’s the story about him
enjoying a lap snog at the bar of a Rib Shack restaurant (it’s OK, he
later married her). Then there’s his party trick involving loose change
and a certain piece of his anatomy.
Taylor confesses to being a firm follower of the work hard, play hard
ethic, ‘and I do like a good laugh with the boys and girls’. This is a
guy with a past. According to Chris Boothby, the broadcast director of
BBJ Media Services who shared an office with Taylor during their WCRS
days, Taylor is ‘an excellent operator, very smooth’, although he admits
that ‘there’s definitely a wild man trying to get out of this smooth
Chris Locke, the joint deputy managing director at the Media Centre, is,
typically, a little more blunt: ‘Paul’s an animal.’ He adds that the
last time Taylor ever really sold a spot was during his spell at
Grampian Television, ‘so he’ll be used to the sums involved in his new
Taylor, who admits that there really wasn’t any way forward for him at
Channel 4, says that before him lies ‘a great opportunity to build on UK
Gold’s solid foundations, to get involved in the establishment of a
satellite sales house, and experience the cutting edge of the media
explosion that is stampeding on the horizon’.
And although selling UK Gold, despite its comfortable status as the
largest non-Sky satellite channel, could be a bit of a shock to the
Taylor system after the success story of Channel 4, Taylor says he’s
relishing the challenge.
‘What’s needed here is the same sort of drive and commitment that
Channel 4 required when it first began selling its own airtime in 1992.
And in many ways the propositions of UK Gold and Living [Gold’s sister
channel] and Channel 4 aren’t that different. They are all about
environment and brand values.’
As the interview draws to a close, I find myself a little bit
disappointed that Taylor hasn’t peppered his conversation with the sort
of rude gags I’d been warned about. He seems, if anything, professional.
Nice but not very exciting. Then he saves the hour by promising to
invite me out to lunch and take me through his sexual fetishes, and
order is restored to the world.
The Taylor file
1981 Cadbury, area sales rep
1983 Grampian TV, sales assistant
1983 McCann-Erickson, TV buyer
1985 J. Walter Thompson, planner/buyer
1985 WCRS, TV buying group head
1987 Lowe Howard-Spink, senior planner/buyer
1988 Geers Gross, media group manager then joint media director
1992 Channel 4, senior business manager, then client sales manager
1996 UK Gold/Living, sales director