CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/BBC MARKETING - Can the BBC's new chief of marketing revamp a brand globally?

The BBC's new director of marketing, Andy Duncan, does not look

like a former protege of Unilever.

Since graduating from university, he has spent 17 years at the fmcg

company, honing his marketing acumen before jumping ship to join the BBC

just as it grapples with plans to launch a series of new digital TV and

radio channels. His relaxed, easy-going demeanour and blue T-shirt seem

a million miles away from the dark shadowy walls of Unilever, which

likes to keep itself to itself.

Duncan admits that there might be some within the BBC who view him with

suspicion, particularly since in his first week he has managed to gain

control of promotional airtime across the BBC's platforms.

Previously this was handled across a number of divisions, but Duncan was

concerned that to maximise marketing opportunities and make on-air

promotions more effective, closer co-ordination was needed.

"There has been resistance in parts of the BBC, partly because there is

concern about creative freedom," Duncan admits. "I'm a great believer in

collaboration and teamwork. It's about marketing and communications

being partners with programme-makers. It's not about prescribing, it's

about performing."

Collaboration is a key word in Duncan's vocabulary as he outlines his

plans for BBC marketing. He believes that, like Unilever, the BBC in the

past has been prone to focusing too much internally, and needs to think

more about its audience.

"My overriding headline is that the BBC is quite internally orientated,

so marketing and communications should be helping the BBC to become more

externally and consumer-focused, satisfying the licence-fee payers. This

means working with programme-makers, commissioning editors and informing

the front-end of the process with consumer understanding."

His dealings let Unilever show that Duncan is adept at rejuvenating

brands and taking a more radical marketing stance to make a product more


He appointed Mother, which came up with the award-winning and edgy

Supernoodles campaign when he was the marketing director of Unilever's

spreads, margarines and Batchelors brands, and was behind campaigns for

PG Tips, Olivio and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

Despite coming into the BBC to a roster of agencies (which include

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Fallon and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters)

appointed by his predecessor, Matthew Bannister, Duncan says he has no

plans to review the creative roster again. "As far as I can see, we have

three extremely good agencies. What is not yet clear is the allocation

of projects to different agencies."

Duncan is clear that what he will ask from agencies is groundbreaking

work that calls attention to the BBC's brands. "I would like us to be

seen to do some really great things more often and take more risks. Many

years ago Unilever was guilty of not trying to fail and being safe. One

of the things I will say is: 'it's fine to fail and fine to take