NEWSMAKER/JOHN HARDIE: Enthusiastic marketing chief swaps fmcg for ITV - John Hardie has a passion for TV and 14 years of P&G expertise

Last week, New ITV finalised its war cabinet, storming one of its biggest advertisers and most visible critics - Procter & Gamble - to appoint John Hardie, the managing director for Europe of P&G’s cosmetics and toiletries

Last week, New ITV finalised its war cabinet, storming one of its

biggest advertisers and most visible critics - Procter & Gamble - to

appoint John Hardie, the managing director for Europe of P&G’s cosmetics

and toiletries

division, to be its marketing and commercial director.

ITV could hardly have chosen a more fitting voice than Hardie through

which to speak to its customers. As a P&G man, his understanding of

consumer targeting should be formidable, and as an advertiser, his

empathy towards the ad community is obvious.

Nevertheless, few in the advertising industry know this 35-year-old Scot

who graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in English and

Philosophy, joined P&G as a brand manager 14 years ago and whose

marketing achievements include the successful relaunch of Bold, tripling

the Cover Girl business in the UK and becoming P&G’s youngest general

manager in 1994 when he took charge of the German-based Ellen Betrix


Although Hardie would not talk about his plans for ITV, he spoke to

Campaign about being the man behind the news.

Did you always want to work in marketing?

JH Until my last year at university, I’d never even heard of


Faced with the impending prospect of life without grant cheques,

’gainful employment’ presented itself as a newly attractive concept. Not

being exactly sure what an English and Philosophy graduate was supposed

to do after university, I took part in Procter & Gamble’s legendary

Christmas vacation marketing course. It was love at first sight;

infatuation led to a marriage which has lasted 14 years.

My earliest ambition was to be a pilot, a career I’m sure I would have

pursued were it not for my fear of heights.

So what are the attractions of P&G to a would-be marketer?

JH I still reckon P&G is about the best training there is in


I base that on my testimony of the myriad former P&Gers now working in

other companies, ranging from fmcg, retailers, advertising agencies and

consultancies. Without exception they rate P&G all the more highly

having worked in what P&G calls ’the world outside’. I know people in


positions in companies, successful in new careers who, ten to 15 years

after leaving P&G, say they still call upon their experiences as young

brand managers in their senior management roles today.

What do you consider to be your main strengths as a marketer?

JH Developing winning strategies and then ruthlessly executing them.

What would you say has been your most valuable lesson learned from your

time at P&G?

JH It takes the same effort to make big changes as it does to make a

small change - and it is generally better to do the former.

How has your experience at P&G prepared you for your new job?

JH P&G imbues its people with the desire to be the biggest player in any

market it does business in. The only measure by which to assess

marketing activity is market results, normally market share. We know

that the key to success is always, for us, successful brands. Coming to

ITV, I don’t want to simply build ’brand values’ as an end in itself - I

want to build audience share by realising ITV’s potential as a


How different is fmcg marketing from the marketing of other types of

product, specifically media brands?

JH Give me a few months and I’ll give you a better answer.

You’ve described yourself as having a passionate interest in ’the little

square box’. Why are you so passionate about television?

JH Television can be an incredible shared experience, whether it’s 16

million people watching Coronation Street, or sharing the experience of

intense national events from the Coronation to the funeral of Diana, or

watching Scotland step up to win the 1998 World Cup. The question isn’t

why would someone be passionate about television, rather it’s how you

could not be passionate about it. This is something affecting millions

around the world, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It’s live and

immediate and, at its best, it’s enthralling.

Does TV play a big part in your life as a consumer and what are your

favourite programmes?

JH Well, yes, I really do watch it. One of my favourite quotes comes

from the film, the Manchurian Candidate: ’The world is divided into two

groups of people: those who walk into a room and switch the television

on; and those who walk into a room and switch the television off.’ I am

most definitely in the first camp.

As for favourites, I think Prime Suspect stands out in recent years as

classic television. More recently, I grudgingly admit to Friends and


What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing TV as an

advertising medium as we go into the next century?

JH Maintaining advertising funded television and its historically high

levels for the good of viewers and advertisers. There is complete

congruency of interest here.

The latest figures from the Advertising Association, with TV growth

slowing to just 1.5 per cent, suggest a ’cooling in advertisers’

enthusiasm for TV’, according to the Incorporated Society of British

Advertisers. Would you agree?

JH I’d like to hear more from advertisers on that question.

From your perspective as a major client of ITV, what is your view of

ITV’s approach to its advertisers?

JH A tad divided.

What attracted you to the ITV job?

JH The opportunity to use my skills for something I am good at

(marketing) in an area that I am interested in (TV). It’s about

challenge and change.

How important do you think ITV is going to be to advertisers as more

channels appear and the opportunities for reaching mass audiences


JH TV will always be extremely important, I believe the medium is still

the most effective selling tool. Nothing in my mind beats 30 seconds of

moving pictures and sound - except perhaps 60 seconds. The key is

maintaining the incredible impact in reach. The future is a more

competitive place, but I believe that with the determination of ITV and

advertisers we can and will ensure that TV retains its pre-eminence as

the country’s most effective selling tool.

Would you describe yourself as ambitious?

JH Rapaciously!

And when you’re not being a marketer, how do you spend your time?

JH Movies, restaurants, friends, golf, music - and, most of all, TV.

What’s your favourite ad?

JH Levi’s ’laundrette’ always springs to mind.

Media Forum, p20.

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