Media Headliner: Stacey bids to be different with Bauer Access

Bauer Media's broadcast director is excited to be re-energising its cross-media sales through content.

Karen Stacey, Bauer Media's broadcast director, is enthusing about the launch of Bauer Access at the end of last year - an initiative that is supposed to make it easier for advertisers and agencies to do cross-platform deals between the company's brands.

Rather than just empty words and slick sales patter from Stacey, Bauer seems to be serious in its intent to better leverage its brands including Kiss, 4Music and Q.

Bauer Access' unveiling to the industry was marked by performances from the Kiss breakfast DJs Rickie & Melvin and the Welsh singer Duffy, and Bauer has just invested further in the resource with the hiring of the lively former ZenithOptimedia creative director Lucy Banks to be its first executive creative director.

Reporting to Stacey and the Bauer Media chief executive, Paul Keenan, Banks is charged with leading commercial strategy and working with magazine editors and radio programme directors. Stacey thinks that Banks' hiring will bring a fresh perspective.

She says: "When you're trying to do something like this, you need a fresh pair of eyes. Someone with Lucy's background and credibility with clients was perfect. Her appointment is a further stamp of authority. It says: 'We are going to do something different.'"

So what does Stacey intend to do that differs to what Bauer was doing before? She claims that it is about creating content consumers actually want to watch, listen to or read: "The consumer doesn't really differentiate between who brought it to them, they just like content. At Bauer, we have this ability to create creative content and we know what audiences want. Then we can amplify that message, and the brands involved, because we have the platforms to do that."

Bauer Access is a direct descendent - and, some would argue, an effort to reheat - Emap's cross-media market development team, which attempted to combine the commercial potential of its magazines, TV channels, websites and radio in the early noughties. Some claim that while it had a good start, it has subsequently struggled, so any attempt to re-energise it is welcomed.

"When Emap set up its cross-media sales team, it was unique," one media agency executive says. "It has lost its way a bit with that. It should be one of the best but it hasn't been in the past three, four or even five years."

Stacey is quick to deny this, pointing to cross-media deals her team has done for brands including Orange, Barclaycard and Russian Standard Vodka. An online dating show for Wall's Cornetto built on the ice-cream's "reveal what's inside" positioning with videos hosted on Facebook and promotion through Heat and FHM.

Bauer Access should make these deals easier still.

Certainly, Stacey is a popular operator who is prepared to get things done. Brought up in South London and retaining her accent despite the journey to the King's Road, Stacey got her first break in media when she responded to, of all things, a job ad her mother heard on the radio. "Radio works," she grins.

"Karen's very highly regarded," Matt Landeman, a business director at Carat, says. "She's very personal and passionate and she gets things done. She's built up a network of clients and people who offer real value to Bauer. She's a real asset to their business and a brilliant ambassador for media, and the company."

She has also been a consistent cheerleader for the media innovation cause: as well as being part of the launch team of Jazz FM in 1990, the first new commercial station in London since 1973, Stacey joined the newly formed Channel 4 sales force in 1992. She returned to radio at Emap in 1997 and survived the culls after the company was bought by Bauer in 2008 - she was handed the role of director of broadcast sales and brand solutions the following year.

For Stacey, the creation of Bauer Access reflects a changing media landscape: "Before it was clear that the media owner had space, the media agency did media and the advertising agency did its creative, and it was all quite siloed. But it's all merging. Everyone's paths are starting to cross."

In this converging and confusing space, Stacey says brands need to make sure they protect their message and producing content (preferably with Bauer) is a way to do that: "There is so much white noise out there and what advertisers need to do is help consumers navigate. And consumers navigate through trusted brands.

"We are proud to be a product company and we have worked tirelessly on our product to become that trusted brand. Why would you go to Cornetto for information on dating? But you could go to Heat or FHM."

In promising news for Bauer, agencies have responded positively to the new initiative and Stacey says client briefs have started to come in. "It's a really unique offering," Cate Murden, a business director at Mindshare on the Cornetto account, says.

"Bauer is perfectly placed to help brands to engage with consumers and create really watchable, or readable, content."

Stacey won Radio Sales Team of the Year for four consecutive years at the Campaign Media Awards. She wasn't happy to lose out on the Cross-Media Sales Team of the Year in 2010 - but if all goes to plan, she might very well be in with a shout for 2011.

THE LOWDOWN
Age: 44
Lives: Chelsea
Family: Husband, Ben; daughter, Sophie
Most treasured possession: Family
Interests outside work: Travelling, cinema, eating out
Motto: "Don't say no, have a go!"

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