Niall FitzGerald is to be Advertising Association president

– Niall FitzGerald, chairman and chief executive of the UK's biggest advertiser, Unilever, is to be the next president of the Advertising Association.

– Niall FitzGerald, chairman and chief executive of the UK's biggest advertiser, Unilever, is to be the next president of the Advertising Association.

FitzGerald takes over from Sir George Bull, chairman of J Sainsbury, who has held the presidency since 1996. FitzGerald's presidency begins on May 22.

He said: "I am honoured that Sir George approached me at such an exciting and challenging time for the advertising business, and for the Advertising Association which plays a key central role in its representation. My own company is a committed believer in the value of brands and the way in which advertising investment builds business."

Andrew Brown, director general of the Advertising Association, said one of the most significant issues FitzGerald would confront was the challenge posed by new technology. Convergence would, he said, raise questions over how the industry should be regulated in the future.

Other important issues Brown flagged were the completion of a single market across Europe and the UK implementation of the European legislation that governs the industry.

Brown said: "There are a lot of regulatory matters facing the industry at the moment. FitzGerald brings experience across a lot of markets and a lot of product fields. I am delighted that the Advertising Association is in the privileged position to be guided through these times by a person of FitzGerald's calibre."

FitzGerald's acceptance of the presidency is widely regarded as a coup. Unilever spent about £250 million on advertising last year and is currently getting seriously involved in new areas such as interactive advertising and web marketing. The company recently entered an unusual deal where it paid about $10 million for the film library of Columbia Tristar, which it will swap for airtime on Channel 5.

FitzGerald will remain in the post for at least two years.

He joins a board that already includes James Best, chairman of BMP DDB, Nigel Walmsley, chairman of Carlton Media Group and Keith Weed, vice-chairman of Elida Fabergé.



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