MEDIA: HEADLINER; Is ITV’s rising star the man to move things forward at MTV?

Paul Chard sees a number of reasons for joining MTV, Gordon MacMillan reports

Paul Chard sees a number of reasons for joining MTV, Gordon MacMillan


OK, it’s pop quiz time. What was the first video to be played on MTV

Europe? Come on, it’s easy. No? Well, for the record, it was Money for

Nothing by Dire Straits.

While this kernel of knowledge is not currently resident in Paul Chard’s

head, it is only a matter of time before MTV’s new vice-president of

advertising sales will be brimming with such gems, which are sure to

impress his friends on the golf-course.

Chard’s decision to leave ITV after 15 years has taken many by surprise.

He was only promoted to commercial director of Laser Sales earlier this

year. Chard says it is like ‘leaving the womb’.

The big question is, why is he going? Surely something must have gone

wrong. Trouble in the ranks at ITV? A power struggle that Chard lost?

Chard says definitely not. He insists that it was simply one of those

offers you can’t refuse.

If you think about it, a company such as MTV - which is owned by the

acquisitive media giant, Viacom - can probably offer a pretty good

package. For openers, Chard is about to move into a new house. He also

has an 11-month-old son.

The word around town is that Laser is going to miss Chard. Nick Brien,

the managing director of Leo Burnett, believes Laser will have

difficulty replacing him: ‘He is one of a kind. It doesn’t have anyone

who can quickly step into his shoes, and it does need someone like him.’

Chard seems to be a natural for TV, and MTV has Chard senior to thank

for that - it was his father who pushed him into the business in the

early 80s, rescuing him from a job managing a jeans store in Birmingham.

‘I went for an interview at the research company, AGB, on the Friday,

found myself a bedsit in Ruislip, and started on the Monday. And Granada

was one of my clients,’ he says.

Although MTV sounds like a cool place to work, it is a long way from

attracting the millions that currently watch ITV.

Chard recognises this but says there is a lot more to MTV. For him, it

represents a new challenge. The station is growing as cable and

satellite penetration increases and there are opportunities in the areas

of licensing and merchandising that simply do not exist at Laser.

While at Laser, Chard was a prime mover behind Cadbury’s sponsorship

deal with Coronation Street. At MTV, he will have a wider field to play

on, including programme syndication and sales.

Tellingly, the ITV network is a bit of a late-comer to the whole

sponsorship and merchandising game, and Chard admits that its record to

date has been pretty poor. Yet, at the same time, he says that Granada

and Laser are in the right place to increase non-spot activity and he

knows they have great plans. Great plans, maybe, but not great enough to

keep Chard from jumping ship.

What’s more, MTV is a strong TV brand, probably one of the strongest in

the world. ITV, meanwhile, is arguably a commodity - an umbrella group

covering 15 regional stations.

The singularity of MTV appeals to Chard: ‘MTV is one company and if you

want to do something you just do it. The problem with ITV is the federal

state - a network deal needs 15 nods.’

Chard gives the impression that he no longer has the time to wait for

these nods and has decided to take his ideas and energies elsewhere.

Industry insiders say he will bring creativity and what one person says

is a ‘tremendous amount of tenacity’ to MTV.

Louise Angus, who is also a vice-president of advertising and sales at

MTV and a former colleague of Chard’s, is brimming with enthusiasm for

the guy. ‘I have known him for most of his working life and he is a

terribly funny person - great with people. I’m thrilled,’ she says.

But is Chard an MTV kind of person? After all, the station is very

different from ITV. As Angus puts it: ‘You won’t find anyone here with a

three-piece suit - that isn’t very MTV.’

Then there is the language difference - Chard admits he is already in

training to master MTV Euro-English.

And, of course, there is music - does he like it? Well, he lists soul

artists such as Al Green and Marvin Gaye and the likes of Mariah Carey

and Celine Dion as among his favourites - which all sounds very MTV.

The Chard file

1980 AGB, researcher

1982 Granada, researcher

1984 Tyne-Tees, research manager

1985 Granada, client sales manager

1989 Granada, sponsorship manager

1993 Time Exchange, sponsorship controller

1994 Laser Sales, head of sponsorship

1996 Laser Sales, commercial director

1996 MTV, vice-president of advertising sales