MEDIA HEADLINER: Marketing stalwart promotes the unique culture at the BBC - David Grint aims to bring consistency to the Beeb's branding, Ian Darby says

The past few days have been eventful for the BBC. First it calls a

review of its media account, held by PHD. Then came the announcement by

the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, over its digital future.

Many at the BBC were surprised and disappointed by Jowell's decision to

block the launch of BBC3, the corporation's "youth" channel. Sharing

that sense of disappointment is David Grint, the BBC's head of brand

marketing, who would have been handed a hefty budget to launch the new


Actually, Grint's full title is "head of marketing - planning, strategy

and brand guardianship". Essentially, he manages agency relationships

for the BBC and ensures the consistency of message across the various

BBC brands.

The role that Grint plays at the BBC is somehow emblematic of the way in

which it is attempting to change. Along with Andy Duncan, the

corporation's recently hired marketing director, Grint comes with a

strong commercial background in FMCG marketing. After spells at Bass,

Boots and Coca-Cola, he joined the BBC two years ago as it attempted to

pull together its diverse marketing operations into something more

streamlined and commercially focused.

Grint says: "The BBC is a very creative organisation but what my

background brings is marketing discipline. A lot of the processes and

discipline at Coca-Cola are second to none and while the BBC is not

trying to copy that model exactly, it does help."

PHD handles planning and buying across the BBC's press, ambient and

outdoor activity. A key part of the appointed agency's role will be to

work closely with the BBC's own internal planning team, which plans the

corporation's radio, TV and online activity.

So what is Grint looking for from agencies? "First, people who work well

with internal services. Second, agencies that are very good at what they

do and get great value; not necessarily the cheapest agency but ones

that can provide the best for the BBC. Particularly important is that

agencies must believe in what the BBC does and fit with the BBC


Grint's need to find agencies that gel with the BBC explains last year's

protracted creative agency pitch, which saw Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO,

Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters and Fallon being selected for the


The BBC's roster agencies agree with Grint that the corporation has its

own culture that must be understood and admired. Michael Finn, the chief

executive of DFGW, says: "The BBC needs more external influence.

Agencies are full of bright ideas but if you are working in an

organisation that conflicts with the BBC, then the benefits will be


Most agree that Grint will look for these bright ideas and good strategy

from the selected agency or agencies. However, it seems that he spends

much of his time smoothing over issues internally. Finn says: "All the

best clients are honest and open and David matches up. He is results

oriented and gets things done."

Cilla Snowball, the managing director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, says:

"David is a great motivator and navigator. The BBC is vast and complex.

David understands how to manage the agency through that and gets the

best out of its skills."

Undoubtedly Grint's Coca-Cola experience has helped him deal with the

complexities of the BBC's structure. Gareth Kay, a senior planner at BMP

DDB and previously a board account planner at DFGW on the BBC, describes

him as a "good balance of vision and pragmatism".

Grint will start the media review in a month's time. But it seems he

would have liked to have worked with agencies on launching BBC3. He

says: "My understanding is that it is not necessarily dead. People are

disappointed but we have not given up and will work hard to take it

forward in some form."

In the meantime, Grint says that the BBC's marketing spend will increase

as it launches new services, including BBC4 and digital radio channels,

and aims to educate licence-payers about the move from analogue to


Although he is submerged in these broadcasting issues, Grint is at heart

a traditional marketer.

Instead of attending last week's Royal Television Society gathering in

Cambridge, he was at an IPA event. So pitching agencies are likely to

find a sound, likeable client rather than a media firebrand.