THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Outstanding media sales phenomena

1. Steve Platt, the managing director of Carlton Sales.

All too rarely, a talent of breathtaking ability emerges to dominate

their chosen field for a generation. Even former greats of airtime sales

such as LWT's legendary Ron Miller must feel nothing but humility as

they pay homage to Platt's astonishing, almost uncanny, sales skills.

(Thanks again for the Champions' League tickets, Steve.)

2. Metro, especially the managing director, Mike Anderson.

Astonishing. Metro has actually been trying to sell advertising via the

medium of ... well, advertising media. Double-page spreads all over the

business and financial media. People will pull all sorts of stunts these

days to shift a bit of inventory. Which brings us to ...

3. NatMags, featuring the managing director Terry Mansfield.

Yes, that's right, Terry Mansfield. "Hasn't he retired yet?" asks a

reader with the initials DE, from Soho. No he hasn't. And what's more,

he's as mad as ever. Back in November, El Tel toured London media

agencies on a tractor, dressed as a bridegroom. His story was that he

was promoting Country Living's sponsorship of The Farmer Wants A Wife,

ITV's bucolic knocking shop.

4. Express Group newspapers, starring Stan Myerson.

The newspaper industry just wasn't the same without Myerson, who has a

reputation for being as volatile as a particularly unstable type of

nitroglycerine on a very warm day. Myerson and the Daily Express went

their different ways a couple of years back, but he liked his old job so

much he got his mate to buy the company. Media agencies immediately

fitted volume restrictors to their telephones.

5. Talking of which, we come to the Ghengis Khan award for sales

subtlety, which goes this year to the internet portal MSN.

One online buyer called up not so long ago with some business to place.

"I've already made my targets so I don't need your business," came the

response. "But I tell you what - why don't you try to make me an offer

that doesn't make me laugh." On another occasion, a senior media

specialist called his opposite number at MSN to find out why the portal

was causing his people so much grief. The conversation went something

like this. MSN: "We have something in common, don't we?" Specialist:

"Yes? What's that?" MSN: "You don't like us. And we don't care."

6. Carlton Sales again.

This time as personified by the chief executive, Martin Bowley. He's in

for no other reason than his astounding gift for winding people up.

Which is reason enough.

7. Granada's new sales boss, Graham Duff.

"Duffy" has, apparently, been touting himself around town as "the future

of ITV". Like it. But, being a West Ham supporter, he doesn't know what

Champions' League tickets are. Which is why he struggles to make seven

in the charts.

8. Channel 4.

"There's something very odd happening there," one media buyer reports.

"It used to be that they were just smug. Now they're more like, I don't

know, evangelical, born-again Christians or something. They act like the

chosen ones and imply you're extremely stupid if you refuse to listen to

their message of salvation. I was alright. Luckily, I already knew I was

stupid. I hope they're all going to be OK down there."

9. Justin Sampson at the Radio Advertising Bureau

He's doing a sterling job convincing us all of the merits of digital

radio. Unfortunately, his efforts are sometimes undercut by the tactical

activity of media owners. In the following telephone exchange between a

senior radio executive and Campaign, the executive held a radio to the

receiver and switched over to digital. Executive: "There. Can you hear

the difference in quality?" Campaign: "Not down the other end of a

telephone line, I can't." Executive: "Oh yes. Yes I see." Campaign:"I

have a CD player at home, is the quality a bit like that?" Executive:

"Yes! Yes it is! That's it exactly!"

10. Flextech and its ad sales director, Mark Howe.

Flextech makes the list because (sorry) it's actually very, very good at

what it does, which is selling TV both on a day-to-day basis and also

with reference to the digital, convergent, multi-platform picture. Which

is nice. Hardened time buyers don't really know how to deal with it.


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