MEDIA: SPOTLIGHT ON; GMTV SALES: Would GMTV be wise to hand its sales over to a big player?

GMTV is doing well despite the low profile of its sales arm, Alasdair Reid argues

GMTV is doing well despite the low profile of its sales arm, Alasdair

Reid argues



Last week, GMTV staffers were too busy celebrating to pay much attention

to a little cloud appearing on the horizon. After all, the breakfast TV

contractor had just announced its first profits: pounds 1 million for

the calendar year 1995. The good news has been a long time coming - last

year was GMTV’s third year of operation.



Though pounds 1 million might seem relatively modest, it’s not bad

considering how much money GMTV had to offer the Government for the

privilege of taking over the franchise. It pays a pounds 35 million a

year flat rate, plus 15 per cent of its total revenue. In 1995 this

worked out at pounds 12.2 million.



So GMTV did pretty well. It took pounds 80 million in spot advertising

in 1995, up 8 per cent on the previous year. And it reported a

substantial year-on-year increase in sponsorship revenue. Since Chris

Evans left its Channel 4 rival, the Big Breakfast, GMTV’s viewing

figures have grown and revenue has chased the audience.



GMTV’s sales director, Clive Crouch, puts this success down to its

consistent sales policy and positioning. ‘We do a lot of client deals

and we will trade off either the fixed or floating price. Though we are

primarily a national sales operation, we have increased the macro

options available to regional advertisers,’ he says.



So the publication of Media Sales and Marketing’s survey into sales

operations was a little unfortunate. Or fortunate, depending on the way

you look at it. It revealed that few media buyers consider GMTV’s sales

operation to be a major player in the market.



Hardly surprising, given the specialist nature of the breakfast TV

market. But it does make you wonder if GMTV would do even better if it

handed its sales over to a bigger sales organisation - one with real

all-round leverage in the market.



Agencies tend to think not. ‘It is a specialist sell,’ Paul Woolmington,

the managing director of 20/20 Media, argues. ‘If it went into a larger

organisation, it would be sold as just another ITV day-part, which would

be a huge mistake. It is very good at playing to its strengths and

targeting the clients that will place the highest value on what it has

to sell.



‘As for its profile - yes, it should be a worry, but not that much of a

worry. The point is that if you’re not interested in the breakfast

audience, then GMTV won’t chase you and it will be totally invisible.

But if you are in that market it takes on a huge importance. If it were

swallowed up in a sales house it might not have a profile at all.’



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