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
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
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.