1. EMAP ADVERTISING
They're back -- and this time it's serious. The enthusiasm and service ethos of Emap's sales teams has been taken for grant in the past, but in the past couple of years the shine has come off their reputation somewhat. Now they're cooking again, with Theresa Coligan, the head of magazine sales, getting the best out of the print sales teams and Dave King tying up cross-platform deals against youth audiences across the group's TV, radio and print properties. Agencies love what they hear and see from Emap these days. And so did Campaign's Media Awards jury.
2. THE GUARDIAN AND THE OBSERVER
There's a theory that The Guardian's sales team goes from strength to strength when morale at its arch enemies The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, are low. The Mail got it badly wrong this year, playing hardball with ad rates when the market couldn't be doing with it. In contrast, The Guardian under Stuart Taylor has kept its yield high by positioning itself as the advertiser's friend, offering value-added creative services and extending its client solutions team.
3. VIRGIN RADIO
Virgin Radio and especially its sales supremo, Kathryn Jacob, appears to be in everyone's good books these days. "They know the media marketplace, they know their own medium and they know their own product. They know about their listeners and they know about routes to market. It helps when you come across people who know what they're talking about," one buyer said.
Interestingly, Viacom is no longer the out-and-out darling of the outdoor business -- poster specialists have praised it warmly in the past but are no longer awarding it top marks. No -- its inclusion this year is all down to a broader, multimedia phenomenon, especially an ability to make the most of its TV properties, including Paramount and the MTV family of channels. The team is led by the sales boss, Paul Curtis.
5. SKY. PETER SHEA
Something of a miracle has happened over at Sky. Not so long ago, it was regarded as a bit of an embarrassment -- and it takes a lot to embarrass a television time buyer. Sky's sales efforts were all about heavy drinking, freebies to sports events and more heavy drinking. It was all too macho for some, while others felt that Sky was aspiring to the former take-it-or-leave-it arrogance of ITV, which is always a mistake. But suddenly, Sky sales people have been acting as if they represent a 21st-century, digital interactive offering in the multiplatform age. Which, rather happily, they do.
As in the newly abbreviated and lowercased TV station. Aside from the deputy chief executive, Nick Milligan, Channel 5 doesn't have any star names on the sales side but it has done incredibly well this year by all accounts. Part of its success is down to the fact that it isn't Channel 4 -- which, for some reason, no-one has had a good word for this year. But the five sales team has sold astutely on the back of improving programming and is as keen as mustard -- always on the phone chasing the last penny.
"They just get on with it, don't think," one buyer, pondered rhetorically. "They have never been fashionable but they deliver and they have built a fantastic sense of loyalty among their client base. They work amazingly hard to get to know their customers. They know the market, they know their strengths and they consistently play to them."
8. TURNER BROADCASTING
According to more enlightened buyers, the Turner sales teams represent the future. Agencies love the way that, especially on properties such as Cartoon Network, they go way beyond mere airtime trading and offer all sorts of sophisticated tie-ups. Sounds exotic.
9. INTERACTIVE DIGITAL SALES
Flextech's cross-platform sales operation is headed by Mark Howe. IDS, not to be confused with a somewhat obscure political leader, sells airtime and other digital opportunites on the UK-branded joint venture channels with the BBC - Gold, Drama, Horizons, style, et al - and now rivals Sky in terms of share of market. Like just about all the contenders nibbling away at the ITV-Channel axis, it's forward looking and innovative.
This year's list sees the inauguration of a special Jekyll and Hyde award for the media owner that is cited as often as a pet hate and an irritant as often as it is proposed for top ten inclusion. So, let's hear it for IPC, where the verdict is unequivocally clear -- its sales teams are a by-word for all that is lazy, ignorant and complacent while at the same time being a shining beacon of hard-working excellence, integrity and innovation. Whatever. IPC is certainly doing something right. Some of the time.
If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.