MEDIA HEADLINER: Can Pullan change Channel 5 into a cutting-edge TV brand? C5's marketing director is ready to address its image problem

Despite being under the weather last week (a touch of flu), David

Pullan was more than willing to make time for the Campaign

photographer.



Pullan suspected that the most recent shot we held in our picture

library was likely to feature him during his blond period. He was right.

And you can see why he wanted this sort of material suppressed.

Unfortunately, he failed to recover in time for the photographer to take

another shot.



Pullan has wisely laid the peroxide aside. He says: "My wife said it was

a time-of-life thing. I'd got rid of the sports car and this was a last-

ditch bit of rebellion."



And where better to do a bit of last-ditch rebellion than at MTV, where

he's been the marketing director of the UK and Ireland operation for the

last couple of years? And indeed, what better apprenticeship for the

marketing and commercial director's role at Channel 5? Last week Pullan

was confirmed as the successor to Jim Hytner, who left at the start of

September to become the marketing and commercial director of ITV.



A year ago Channel 5 would never have come looking for the likes of

Pullan and even if they did, the likes of Pullan would have met their

advances with a sneer.



Until recently, Channel 5's understanding of the youth market was

exemplified by the fact that its launch activity featured the Spice

Girls. And since then it has plodded determinedly into the most

uninspiring of naff territory - made-for-TV films from the dump bins of

the TV programming markets, loads of dreary soft porn.



But something is happening at Channel 5. A few weeks ago, it began

running documentaries on art history in early peaktime.



Recently it announced a pretty decent line-up of films, including The

Matrix and Erin Brockovich.



Under the new programme director, Kevin Lygo, who joined in July from

Channel 4, the revamped schedule is starting to pay off - its share of

the 16- to 24-year-old audience rose significantly in October. It will

be part of Pullan's job to leave us in no doubt about the nature of the

new Channel 5.



Pullan makes a comparison with Channel 4: "It wasn't so long ago that it

was being attacked from all sides for being pornographic. Look at where

the brand is now. There is a real false perception out there about what

Channel 5 is all about. It's in an incredible period of growth and

evolution."



Pullan knows a thing or two about charting a course for media brands in

the multi-platform environment - as well as heading MTV's marketing

efforts, he was latterly in charge of its digital strategy. His CV also

includes a spell at McKinsey and various management roles within the BMG

Entertainment Group. So he knows all about the big picture.



The first task when Pullan joins in the New Year is to overhaul the

channel's whole visual style. Expect a more cutting-edge,

design-literate approach.



"I'm very focused on brands - defining brands and driving that across

all available of the channels," he states. "It's about clarity of vision

and getting the fundamentals right. Onscreen branding and communications

is vitally important. At some channels it's regarded as part of the

production department but that doesn't make sense to me. Doing it that

way, some of the message can get lost. But with MTV the on- and off-air

communications were absolutely integrated."



There is a consensus that Pullan's appointment is in itself a bit of a

marketing coup, although insiders suggest the job had already been

rejected by at least one other candidate. One observer puts it starkly

into perspective: "They're clearing out the crap in programming terms

and it's now long overdue that they dump the cheeky chappie persona that

characterised the Hytner era. It doesn't do them any favours."



Kevin Morton, the managing director of MTV's media agency, Equinox

Communications, says: "This sends out a very strong message. Channel 5

has stolen top talent from one of the coolest TV brands there is. If it

had got someone from any number of other satellite channels, it would

have sent an entirely different message. This says something powerful

about Channel 5's ambitions."



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