OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Melanie Briggs - C4’s head of sponsorship is on her way to a stellar career, writes Jeremy Lee

Melanie Briggs has done pretty well for a first jobber - although she’s not the sort of person to boast about it - and she’s definitely one to watch.

Melanie Briggs has done pretty well for a first jobber - although

she’s not the sort of person to boast about it - and she’s definitely

one to watch.



After completing a business and finance degree at Bournemouth Poly in

1993, she got a job in the Channel 4 sales department and - apart from a

brief respite to go travelling - she has stayed there ever since.



Briggs joined the sponsorship department in September 1997 and now has

the enviable role of sponsorship manager at a TV station renowned for

such deals as the award-winning Stella Artois sponsorship of Channel 4

films and the Rolling Rock bumpers around The Jo Whiley Show.



It must seem a long way from the little rural village in which she grew

up - just outside Witney in Oxfordshire. She sums the place up by

mentioning that the neighbours would spy on the kids next door to give

them something to talk about.



Now 30, and firmly ensconced in London’s busy media village, Briggs is a

key player in a team that is responsible not only for Channel 4, but

also for Film Four and the soon to launch E4 channel. In typically

modest fashion, she describes her role as ’fulfilment’ - although she is

also involved in negotiation and is currently putting together the

Channel 4 autumn showreel.



If that were not keeping her sufficiently busy, Briggs is also in the

process of selling her flat in Richmond, a terrible wrench because her

hobbies include horse-riding in the nearby park.



’The creative process in sponsorship is key’, she says, stressing that

she has to work closely with the programmers as well as the sponsors,

and that bumpers must have the right emotional feel.



Briggs is keen on developing relationships with advertisers, and says

she is particularly proud of the Stella Artois deal.



The deal, which won several Campaign Media awards, started three years

ago and Briggs describes it as a good example of an enduring

relationship that has developed into Stella funding ’pop-up’ shows

around movies.



She is not one of those sales people who is obsessed with her brand to

the exclusion of all others, and is always looking out for good

sponsorship deals on other channels. She is ’particularly impressed’

with Nescafe’s sponsorship of Friends on Sky as well as Channel 4 -

admitting that the combination creates a real ownership of the

programme.



She also praises Cadbury’s sponsorship of Coronation Street, noting that

the creative is clever enough to get around the ITC regulations that

dictate the product cannot be shown.



These ITC rules are currently in review and Briggs predicts that changes

will allow the product to be shown in sponsorship idents. This will make

sponsorship an increasingly popular route for advertisers - and Briggs

and her colleagues even hotter property in the media sales market.



Not that her talents have gone unnoticed up until now. Richard Brinkman,

head of sponsorship at BBJ, describes Briggs as ’a highly effective

operator, who’s loved by her clients’.



’Next year, there will be lots of eyes on sponsorship,’ says Briggs.



And you can’t help thinking there’ll be a few ad directors with their

eyes on her.