Despite being under the weather last week (a touch of flu), David
Pullan was more than willing to make time for the Campaign
Pullan suspected that the most recent shot we held in our picture
library was likely to feature him during his blond period. He was right.
And you can see why he wanted this sort of material suppressed.
Unfortunately, he failed to recover in time for the photographer to take
Pullan has wisely laid the peroxide aside. He says: "My wife said it was
a time-of-life thing. I'd got rid of the sports car and this was a last-
ditch bit of rebellion."
And where better to do a bit of last-ditch rebellion than at MTV, where
he's been the marketing director of the UK and Ireland operation for the
last couple of years? And indeed, what better apprenticeship for the
marketing and commercial director's role at Channel 5? Last week Pullan
was confirmed as the successor to Jim Hytner, who left at the start of
September to become the marketing and commercial director of ITV.
A year ago Channel 5 would never have come looking for the likes of
Pullan and even if they did, the likes of Pullan would have met their
advances with a sneer.
Until recently, Channel 5's understanding of the youth market was
exemplified by the fact that its launch activity featured the Spice
Girls. And since then it has plodded determinedly into the most
uninspiring of naff territory - made-for-TV films from the dump bins of
the TV programming markets, loads of dreary soft porn.
But something is happening at Channel 5. A few weeks ago, it began
running documentaries on art history in early peaktime.
Recently it announced a pretty decent line-up of films, including The
Matrix and Erin Brockovich.
Under the new programme director, Kevin Lygo, who joined in July from
Channel 4, the revamped schedule is starting to pay off - its share of
the 16- to 24-year-old audience rose significantly in October. It will
be part of Pullan's job to leave us in no doubt about the nature of the
new Channel 5.
Pullan makes a comparison with Channel 4: "It wasn't so long ago that it
was being attacked from all sides for being pornographic. Look at where
the brand is now. There is a real false perception out there about what
Channel 5 is all about. It's in an incredible period of growth and
Pullan knows a thing or two about charting a course for media brands in
the multi-platform environment - as well as heading MTV's marketing
efforts, he was latterly in charge of its digital strategy. His CV also
includes a spell at McKinsey and various management roles within the BMG
Entertainment Group. So he knows all about the big picture.
The first task when Pullan joins in the New Year is to overhaul the
channel's whole visual style. Expect a more cutting-edge,
"I'm very focused on brands - defining brands and driving that across
all available of the channels," he states. "It's about clarity of vision
and getting the fundamentals right. Onscreen branding and communications
is vitally important. At some channels it's regarded as part of the
production department but that doesn't make sense to me. Doing it that
way, some of the message can get lost. But with MTV the on- and off-air
communications were absolutely integrated."
There is a consensus that Pullan's appointment is in itself a bit of a
marketing coup, although insiders suggest the job had already been
rejected by at least one other candidate. One observer puts it starkly
into perspective: "They're clearing out the crap in programming terms
and it's now long overdue that they dump the cheeky chappie persona that
characterised the Hytner era. It doesn't do them any favours."
Kevin Morton, the managing director of MTV's media agency, Equinox
Communications, says: "This sends out a very strong message. Channel 5
has stolen top talent from one of the coolest TV brands there is. If it
had got someone from any number of other satellite channels, it would
have sent an entirely different message. This says something powerful
about Channel 5's ambitions."