MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Faint hearts need not apply for post as ITV’s head man

The emergence of Richard Hytner, the chief executive of Publicis, as the third name on the shortlist for the chief executive of the ITV Network may cause a few media agency chiefs to raise their eyebrows, but it is probably a welcome addition to the long drawn-out trawl for someone to fill the post.

The emergence of Richard Hytner, the chief executive of Publicis,

as the third name on the shortlist for the chief executive of the ITV

Network may cause a few media agency chiefs to raise their eyebrows, but

it is probably a welcome addition to the long drawn-out trawl for

someone to fill the post.



Hytner’s presence is not a predictable one - his brother Jim, the

marketing director at Channel 5, may have been a less surprising

contender, given his media owner background - but Richard’s reputation

as a good man manager as well as a good business brain is one that could

be well used at ITV.



Since Hytner’s installation at Publicis two years ago, the agency has

performed consistently. There are quite a few strong personalities

involved in the agency’s management - a convenient warm-up for the egos

involved at ITV who include United News & Media’s Lord Hollick,

Carlton’s Michael Green and Granada’s Charles Allen. It’s a senior

management line-up, not for the faint hearted.



Given the task facing the new ITV chief - as the station battles against

the growing competition of digital TV; tries to appease agencies and

advertisers looking at the growing problem of inflation; and faces a

civil war within the ITV group as the three companies vie for its

control - it is quite clearly not a job that people are clamouring

for.



ITV is looking for someone who has a good strategic mind and can deftly

manage the ITV heads while being tough enough to withstand a critical

public eye.



For many, Peter Littlewood is the unknown quantity in the mix but an

odds-on favourite. The British Mars US marketer apparently comes with

glowing references from America where he has successfully managed to put

together a number of brand propositions for the FMCG giant. But, having

worked in the States for a number of years, would he be sufficiently

aware of the vagaries of ITV to be able to ride through the many

pitfalls of the job? There are a number of examples of people moving

over from the client world to the media owner/agency side who have found

it a tough call. Then again, if ITV is looking for a skillful frontman,

perhaps he is the man to do it.



Finally, we come to Dominic Proctor, MindShare Worldwide’s chief

operating officer, who has also been tipped as a contender on the final

list. But Proctor has made it very clear to Campaign that he is not on

the shortlist and will stick with MindShare. Whoever is picked, ITV

should get its skates on, because the longer it’s left, the less

credibility the chosen candidate will have.



As speculation reaches boiling point on who will step forward to take

ITV’s crown of thorns, one can’t help wondering if the role will become

obsolete with the prospect of a consolidated ITV.



anna.griffiths@haynet.com.



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