PERSPECTIVE: TV 97 conference shows a breath of fresh air is needed

I went to Monte Carlo last week for the TV 97 conference - my first and, almost certainly, last visit. A series of sales pitches that passed for debate were delivered to an audience already fully conversant with their contents. Those that were not do not need to incur the expense of visiting ’Monte’ to become so. Several delegates told me it was an improvement on previous events. Well, the networking had better have been worth it.

I went to Monte Carlo last week for the TV 97 conference - my first

and, almost certainly, last visit. A series of sales pitches that passed

for debate were delivered to an audience already fully conversant with

their contents. Those that were not do not need to incur the expense of

visiting ’Monte’ to become so. Several delegates told me it was an

improvement on previous events. Well, the networking had better have

been worth it.



It was disappointing stuff. Judging by David Elstein’s curiously flat

presentation, Channel 5’s current strategy is to play down expectations,

mindful perhaps of previous disastrous launches such as TV-am and

British Satellite Broadcasting. We all hope Channel 5 will succeed, but

the whole retuning experience has not left one feeling warm. Also, it

would help the stated mission to be mass and modern if its

ever-so-clever advertising campaign told Joe Sixpack that the station

was terrestrial, free and he’ll have to twiddle his own knob to see

it.



TV needs a breath of fresh air. Some of the media owners present would

like nothing so much as a return to the previous cosy status quo. This

was nowhere as apparent as in a surprisingly aggressive swipe made by

Carlton’s Martin Bowley towards Flextech’s Richard Burdett for daring to

suggest an alternative approach to minutage, and the importance of the

editorial environment to the way he sells Discovery. The exchange served

only to justify Burdett’s expenses as he became one of the conference

celebrities.



It made Bowley look defensive. Then, we return home to find that

Carlton’s sales force has just received anything up to 35 per cent

bonuses for achieving ’share of ITV’ targets. Cynical, me?



ITV’s conference line was ’keep our heads down’. Thus, while the debate

was hardly raging, ITV’s views on station average price, the launch of

digital terrestrial and agency deals (OK, that’s a bit naive) were not

forthcoming. The clients I spoke to are too experienced to expect much

from such an event, but they deserve a contribution. They are interested

in what Sky, Flextech and others have to offer and the ITV ’biggest

numbers’ mantra satisfies ever less of their needs.



Amid this mediocrity, two presentations shone: first, the extraordinary

grasp of his subject that Rupert Gavin, BT’s director of multimedia

services, displayed in the one sales pitch delegates welcomed; and

second, Paul Twivy, unemployed, with nothing to sell but himself. Twivy

was the sole speaker to appeal on an emotional level.



Which other UK adman could have delivered such an incisive analysis of

the relationship consumers have with their TV sets? In a context as

conservative and parochial as TV 97 (only Eurosport mentioned Europe)

Twivy was that much-needed breath of fresh air. Give the man a bloody

good job.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content