Magazine article Marketing

Profile: ITV's Born Fighter - Ian McCulloch Commercial Director, ITV

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: ITV's Born Fighter - Ian McCulloch Commercial Director, ITV

Article excerpt

Before joining ITV 27 years ago, its commercial director Ian McCulloch was considering a career in the military rather than the cut-throat world of TV sales.

While his eventual choice of job has meant his use of a gun is restricted to regular hunting trips, he is always on his guard, with ITV facing an unprecedented level of competition from its multichannel rivals.

Known for his impatience and being a tough negotiator, the 47-year-old has overseen a significant transformation of ITV's sales department, including a substantial restructure. 'No one is going to pat us on the back because we are still the biggest channel, but ITV has been genuinely reinvigorated with a new integrated approach,' he says.

However, he has his critics. 'He is too focused (on CRR) when he was the one responsible for the deal in the first place,' says one. CRR is undoubtedly an albatross around ITV's neck and most media agencies concede it has led to a decline in ad revenues. 'It certainly has an impact, but we have to trade in the regulatory environment and are involved in an ongoing dialogue with agencies and advertisers, which all want to maintain the strength of ITV1,' says McCulloch.

In the larger-than-life world of TV, where inflated egos and salaries to match are the order of the day, McCulloch is a private, understated man. His interests, which include Formula One, shooting and bike-racing, place him firmly in the alpha-male category, but colleagues say he is fully focused on the bottom line and wants to be judged by his business not flamboyant behaviour.

It is fair to say McCulloch knows the business inside out. In 1980, his father, a former marketing director at now-defunct US airline Pan Am, introduced him to the sales director of LWT, who offered him his first job at the broadcaster.

Renowned for his connections and well-respected within the industry, insiders say McCulloch's approach toward clients is sharp-minded and charming. 'He knows the industry inside out,' says Ian Armstrong, manager of customer communications at Honda, who also credits him with addressing some of the arrogance of which ITV has been accused. 'The introduction of a customer-facing team should not be underestimated,' he adds. …

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