CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Financial Times thinks ’glocal’/Gordon Willoughby wants to defend UK and overseas sales, Emma Hall reports

Gordon Willoughby, the sales, marketing and circulation director of the Financial Times, has a pedigree to match even the most top-flight of his readers. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and took a place among the elite of his graduating year with a job at Boston Consulting Group. Even more impressively he did a multi-lingual MBA at the INSEAD school in France.

Gordon Willoughby, the sales, marketing and circulation director of

the Financial Times, has a pedigree to match even the most top-flight of

his readers. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and took a place

among the elite of his graduating year with a job at Boston Consulting

Group. Even more impressively he did a multi-lingual MBA at the INSEAD

school in France.



Willoughby proved that his ego is not as grand as his CV by deciding

against an agency review when he joined the FT from Diageo 12 months

ago.



’I didn’t want to make (Delaney Fletcher Bozell) repitch just because I

was new,’ he says. ’The agency had been through all that only a year

before. I had a strong marketing team when I came in and they were happy

with the advertising.’



The agency will be hoping that this relationship develops after its

management, which this month rejected a global merger with FCB,

relaunches as Delaney Lund Knox Warren.



’We will retain our team which is crucial to us. They tell me there will

be no change except for access to a stronger international network,’

Willoughby says.



Global reach has become increasingly important for the FT. More than

half the paper’s sales are overseas and Willoughby reports growth in the

US and Europe as ’robust’, while in the UK sales are static in a

declining market.



The FT is taking what he calls a ’glocal’ approach to advertising, where

a global template is agreed before key messages are decided market by

market.



The ’no FT no comment’ line remains for the UK weekday editions. For the

campaign for the newly revamped Saturday issue, the FT has taken the

agency’s idea of wrapping objects in the pages of the paper to

demonstrate its wide-ranging coverage. It has also incorporated this

idea in its latest TV commercial.



’We now have the confidence to go on television. The idea is to broaden

awareness of the product and to prompt reappraisal.’



As a client, Willoughby demonstrates all the contemporary preoccupations

of a serious marketer. He talks enthusiastically of a sharp strategy

matched by powerful creativity and strong integration. Many of these

skills were honed when he was at Diageo.



The exposure to the harder end of the business he experienced at Diageo

was, he says, good preparation for dealing with the newsagents and

retailers who are so important to the FT’s success.



And the FT fits in with his interests, too. Media and current affairs

have always been a ’consuming passion’ for Willoughby; he’s just not

accustomed to taking his own turn in the spotlight. As the interview

comes to an end and the photo-shoot is arranged, he asks: ’Do I have to

spend the weekend at the beautician?’



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