MEDIA: HEADLINER - Standard’s ad director won’t be talking about a revolution/Mike Orlov is looking to build on the newspaper’s London heritage

Sales staff at the Evening Standard shouldn’t expect a whirlwind of change as their new ad director marches on to the floor this week.

Sales staff at the Evening Standard shouldn’t expect a whirlwind of

change as their new ad director marches on to the floor this week.

Mike Orlov, who filled the gap left by Sue Dear when she became the ad

director of The Mail on Sunday, is not a fan of revolutions.

’Why change things just for the sake of changing them?’ he says. ’The

big trick when you’re coming into somewhere is to make a difference by

adding, not dismantling. My parents’ country had a revolution in 1917

and it tore up their lives until they got out of there in 1947. It’s not

necessarily the way to get the best out of people.’

Orlov’s parents left the Soviet Union in the confusion following the

Second World War. They headed for Yorkshire (’where the work was’), met

up in Bradford, married and raised a son who was always reminded of the

importance of working class graft.

’I left London University with a good drinking man’s 2:2,’ remembers

Orlov, who remains as proud of his Russian blood as his northern


’That is when they leaned on me to go out and get a proper job.’

That proper job turned out to be at Haymarket, where Orlov learned his

trade as an ad manager for Campaign among other titles. After a stint as

the publisher of Travel Weekly, he came to Associated Newspapers in 1994

to manage The Mail on Sunday’s expanded travel section. From there Orlov

took on a brief as the paper’s client services manager, then worked as

the deputy ad manager for The Mail on Sunday’s Financial Mail before

being appointed as The Mail on Sunday’s ad sales manager in January


It’s far from the simplest route to the Standard’s ad director’s chair,

but in the eyes of Orlov’s new boss - the managing director Sally de la

Bedoyere - that could be a rare advantage. ’There’s an appeal about

someone who hasn’t been through the normal grooming process,’ she says.

’I like Mike’s lateral thinking. He has a really good understanding of

what the industry faces going forward and he knows how to think out of

the box and make a difference.’

Orlov’s new role seems more likely to push him into the industry

limelight, but that doesn’t mean he has to bask in it.

’There’s an ambassadorial role that comes with the job,’ he says of an

ad director’s usual position as the public face of a paper. ’But it can

be a double-edged sword. It’s great for the ego but it can mean that the

marketplace feels it owns you. You have to make sure you don’t get


Besides, there are probably some prettier people at the Standard who are

more than qualified to share the role.’

That’s more than a bit of rare northern modesty. For Orlov, it’s a

management philosophy. ’I learned from my early mistakes that it’s

crucial to develop talent and build up your team,’ he says. ’You want to

encourage people who will be forward looking. You don’t want a situation

where people are just digging in and being defensive of their


As agency sales manager at The Mail on Sunday, Orlov’s idea of a

non-defensive approach involved bringing his department closer to media


’We’d always got along with agencies and clients,’ he says. ’But we

wanted to repackage the department so we weren’t just brokering space

but talking about news business issues.’

At the time that meant going to agencies with studies about sticky

subjects such as the state of the newspaper industry and its position in

the digital future.

But Orlov believes that the brave new world of the web doesn’t have to

threaten a well-branded paper.’In the mid-term future, especially with

the fragmentation of TV, newspaper superbrands will be crucial for

advertisers hoping to reach a mass audience,’ he says. ’Those papers

that have coped with technological changes and benefited from them will

have an even bigger role to play.’

Orlov sees the Standard as such a product. ’The Standard is London’s

national newspaper and it reflects the power and influence of the city,’

he says. ’It’s far from being parochial.

Our constituency is anybody with anything to do with London.’ And that

even extends to his parents’ old countrymen. ’I lay odds,’ he says,

’that Vladimir Putin and his advisers were looking through the paper

when they were here last week.’