FORUM: Can a P&G veteran make a difference in ITV role? - John Hardie, ITV’s new marketing director, joins the Network next week. He is a graduate of the Procter & Gamble school of marketing excellence and has been with the fmcg giant

When ITV announced last week that it had appointed John Hardie as its new marketing and commercial director, there was much talk of heritage and inheritance - similar but not exactly identical concepts. Heritage as in ’Hardie will bring with him something of Procter & Gamble’s vast brand-building heritage’ - he’s P&G through and through and worked in a senior capacity on many brands, including Oil of Ulay and Fairy Liquid, during his 14 years with the company. Most recently, he was managing director of the company’s European cosmetics and toiletries division.

When ITV announced last week that it had appointed John Hardie as

its new marketing and commercial director, there was much talk of

heritage and inheritance - similar but not exactly identical concepts.

Heritage as in ’Hardie will bring with him something of Procter &

Gamble’s vast brand-building heritage’ - he’s P&G through and through

and worked in a senior capacity on many brands, including Oil of Ulay

and Fairy Liquid, during his 14 years with the company. Most recently,

he was managing director of the company’s European cosmetics and

toiletries division.



That’s the heritage bit. Inheritance, on the other hand, is what Hardie

finds waiting for him at ITV. This includes its agency arrangements -

M&C Saatchi, Motive Communications and the Concord outdoor specialist -

plus an expanded marketing and advertising budget. He also inherits

something rather more insubstantial but no less important: attitude.

There is arguably a new mood within the network, a new desire to get

things right, and a recognition that marketing is absolutely paramount

within that.



It is no accident that this mood has coincided with the arrival of ITV’s

new chief executive, Richard Eyre, who took up his post a few weeks

ago.



Eyre - who arrived at ITV’s Network Centre by way of Capital Radio and,

for those with long memories, Bartle Bogle Hegarty - is a class act. For

some, his appointment of Hardie goes to prove it.



Inheritance-wise, Hardie is on a winner. Unfortunately, though, the big

problem isn’t going to be inheritance. It’s likely to be heritage - ITV

heritage. Heritage as in arrogant monopolists who are finding it

incredibly painful adapting to the new multi-channel environment.

Heritage as in petty squabbling and infighting among the network’s three

superpowers, Carlton, Granada and United News and Media. Could that turn

out to be a more important factor then the new positive mood?



Most people agree that Hardie is an inspired appointment. But will he

regret accepting the offer? What should his priorities be? There are

cynics, of course (aren’t there always?) who suggest that this is merely

a bit of cynical window dressing. Hire a P&G man to get on the phone to

his old mates and tell them to stop whingeing. Good move, given that the

big fmcg advertisers such as P&G have been the most likely to give ITV

grief recently. The big five fmcg advertisers, for instance, are widely

held to be the ringleaders behind recent campaigns to get longer ad

breaks.



Is that the reality behind this appointment? Not a bit of it, Mark

Cranmer, the managing director of Motive Communications, ITV’s media

company, argues.



’Richard Eyre just wouldn’t know how to think that way,’ he states. He

agrees that it’s an inspired move.



’The P&G heritage will be hugely important in marketing ITV’s real

value. John Hardie will be expert at finding the competitive advantages

and making the most of them. I think we’ll begin to realise just how

badly ITV has been under-marketed over the years. After all, more people

have fresh experiences in their recreation time via ITV than they have

by any other means. It’s an important part of people’s lives. You only

have to hear people talking in the office some mornings to realise

that.’



What are the priorities? The consumer or the industry? ’Both,’ Cranmer

argues. ’This is a broad cultural issue. All ITV’s audiences should

appreciate its strengths more.’



Jim Hytner, the marketing director of BSkyB, says he has plenty of

advice - but not for Hardie. He comments: ’He’s an experienced marketer

and knows how to develop a brand. The disciplines are the same, whether

you are marketing Coca-Cola, Orange or Sky. My advice would be for ITV

itself. It needs to give its marketing director a mandate to make brave

decisions without having to present through committees. It should allow

him to build a structure - similar to that of Sky and Channel 5 - in

which marketing is pivotal to the decision-making process. ITV should

treat him as a consumer marketer, not a trade marketer.’



According to Mandy Pooler, the managing director of the Network, it’s

vital Hardie takes a leaf out of Peter Mandelson’s book. ’He’s got to

get ITV ’on message’ as they say these days. Every part of the network

has to speak the same language and talk the same agenda. ITV’s big

problem has been its lack of common cause. Then he has to look after us

and let David Liddiment (ITV Network Centre’s programming chief) put

some distance between himself and the advertising industry. We like to

think we know about programming but we don’t. One of the problems in the

past was that Marcus Plantin (ITV’s former programming boss) got too

involved in the advertising issues - he was sometimes put up as a

sacrificial lamb when things weren’t going too well on the programming

side.’



Pooler argues that, while Liddiment’s priorities should be ’viewers,

viewers, viewers’, Hardie’s priority should be advertisers and

agencies.



’We’re the most disenfranchised group at present. With the general

public, he can’t do too much until the programming is right. There are

things he can do more quickly with the advertising community. Let’s have

a statement on the advertising minutage question - and not just a

statement, an explanation of the thinking behind it. Inflation continues

to be the overwhelming issue.’



But Graham Bednash, managing partner of Michaelides & Bednash, suspects

ITV may have a heritage problem. ’It will be easier identifying what the

problems are than doing anything about them,’ he says. ’Key to the TV

market is reacting to change. Hardie will have a big role in getting

people within ITV to change their behaviour, and it won’t be easy

because some people resist change. Richard Eyre has already gone on

record as saying that big changes are necessary, and I think that has to

be a fundamental cultural thing.



’It’s difficult for an organisation that has historically been

successful and has dominated its market. I think that every campaign ITV

has had so far has reflected that problem. Hardie will now have to be a

champion for change.’