The emergence of Richard Hytner, the chief executive of Publicis,
as the third name on the shortlist for the chief executive of the ITV
Network may cause a few media agency chiefs to raise their eyebrows, but
it is probably a welcome addition to the long drawn-out trawl for
someone to fill the post.
Hytner’s presence is not a predictable one - his brother Jim, the
marketing director at Channel 5, may have been a less surprising
contender, given his media owner background - but Richard’s reputation
as a good man manager as well as a good business brain is one that could
be well used at ITV.
Since Hytner’s installation at Publicis two years ago, the agency has
performed consistently. There are quite a few strong personalities
involved in the agency’s management - a convenient warm-up for the egos
involved at ITV who include United News & Media’s Lord Hollick,
Carlton’s Michael Green and Granada’s Charles Allen. It’s a senior
management line-up, not for the faint hearted.
Given the task facing the new ITV chief - as the station battles against
the growing competition of digital TV; tries to appease agencies and
advertisers looking at the growing problem of inflation; and faces a
civil war within the ITV group as the three companies vie for its
control - it is quite clearly not a job that people are clamouring
ITV is looking for someone who has a good strategic mind and can deftly
manage the ITV heads while being tough enough to withstand a critical
For many, Peter Littlewood is the unknown quantity in the mix but an
odds-on favourite. The British Mars US marketer apparently comes with
glowing references from America where he has successfully managed to put
together a number of brand propositions for the FMCG giant. But, having
worked in the States for a number of years, would he be sufficiently
aware of the vagaries of ITV to be able to ride through the many
pitfalls of the job? There are a number of examples of people moving
over from the client world to the media owner/agency side who have found
it a tough call. Then again, if ITV is looking for a skillful frontman,
perhaps he is the man to do it.
Finally, we come to Dominic Proctor, MindShare Worldwide’s chief
operating officer, who has also been tipped as a contender on the final
list. But Proctor has made it very clear to Campaign that he is not on
the shortlist and will stick with MindShare. Whoever is picked, ITV
should get its skates on, because the longer it’s left, the less
credibility the chosen candidate will have.
As speculation reaches boiling point on who will step forward to take
ITV’s crown of thorns, one can’t help wondering if the role will become
obsolete with the prospect of a consolidated ITV.