Magazine article Marketing

Ad Venturer

Magazine article Marketing

Ad Venturer

Article excerpt

John Hooper is in fighting mood. After hitting the headlines

with last week's marshalling of Incorporated Society of British Advertisers

members to take on culture secretary Chris Smith, some would be lying low.

But warlike metaphors were coming thick and fast in this battle over airtime

inflation. "We're not playing games here. This is not a struggle for the

squeamish," he says, finishing off with a bit of President Truman for good

measure. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

It transpired, however, that Hooper would actually be happy for somebody to

open the kitchen windows a little. He had set up a meeting-with ITV chief

executive Richard Eyre for the day after we spoke to smooth things over a

little. "We're both grown ups," he admits, perhaps with a tinge of regret.

The spat between ISBA and ITV has indeed been a little over-dramatised in

the past week. Hooper points out that nothing in the letter was new and that

half the points actually supported ITV's position.

Nevertheless, his determination not simply to accept ITV's promises of

improving future audiences is another example of ISBA's increasingly

aggressive stance since Hooper, 57, took up the reins just under four years

ago.

But how much of this can actually be put down to the man himself? Mike

Moran, marketing director of Toyota and an executive of ISBA, is quick to

play down the idea of a personality cult. "There has been a step-up in

activity because our members are saying that is what's required. If it were

not the view of various committees, such action wouldn't happen," he says.

However, Moran concedes that Hooper has been a driving force behind a range

of recent ISBA initiatives, including a fresh look at media research, a

drive to improve understanding of advertising effectiveness and moves toward

self-regulation of new media.

"John brings a lot of experience and integrity, but most of all he has

brought a new sense of determination," says Moran. "He didn't need to take

up the cudgel on this latest issue and it needs a lot of commitment to do

that."

The view of most ISBA members is that Hooper has shown a very different face

to that of his predecessor, Ken Miles. "Ken was regarded with mixed feelings

and had his critics, particularly among agencies," says a senior manager at

one of the UK's biggest advertisers. "John is subtler and has a greater

talent. …

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