Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Moral Guardian - David Poley, Chief Executive, Portman Group

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Moral Guardian - David Poley, Chief Executive, Portman Group

Article excerpt

It is unlikely to be every small boy's dream to work in regulation, but David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, who admits to falling into the job, feels it is a role to which he is well suited.

'It is rewarding to feel that you are attempting to make sure that companies are trying to behave in the right way,' says the 44-year-old. 'I wouldn't get the same satisfaction in a job selling something.'

The friendly Welshman has come a long way since leaving university, when his main concern was getting a job in his home country so that he could continue to live in his beloved Cardiff.

The anti-Englishness that some Welsh people revel in has been mollified to such an extent by two decades of living in London that Poley was even able to support England during the recent Rugby World Cup final. 'I wouldn't tell anyone that back home though,' he jokes.

It is clear that Poley is someone who likes a laugh, but when the interview turns from his personal life to the challenges faced by the Portman Group he speaks slowly and deliberately, choosing his words with the care of a politician.

Last month, Poley was granted an audience with Gordon Brown at an event convened to discuss the scourges of under-age and binge drinking. To maintain a semblance of order, each attendee was given a chance to have a one-to-one with the prime minister.

Poley used his time to tell Brown that despite media coverage to the contrary, binge drinking has been in decline for the past two to three years, which suggests that the drinks industry is doing something right. 'That isn't to say everything is rosy,' he adds. 'Drinking levels among 11- to 15-year-olds are soaring, so there are problems. But there are encouraging signs as well.'

Brown's audience have been promised follow-up meetings, at which they will get a chance to expound their arguments. But Poley believes the government will show its hand next year when it is due to publish the results of a review on the promotion and pricing of alcohol, which is set to also cover marketing.

When he joined the Portman Group in the late-90s, the controversy surrounding the alcopops sector was at its height. …

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