Magazine article Marketing

My Month: Philip Almond

Magazine article Marketing

My Month: Philip Almond

Article excerpt

The director of marketing and audiences at the BBC on how the pace of technological and legislative developments is driving change

This month Polly, my 11-year-old daughter, came home from school clutching her new BBC micro:bit. This small, programmable device, created by the BBC with the help of more than 30 partners, is being given free to every child in the UK in year seven, or the equivalent Much as the BBC Micro inspired a generation of personal computing in the 1980s, the micro:bit is intended to inspire a new generation to code.

It's already inspired Polly. She spent that first evening playing with and programming her new device. The first thing she made it do was spell out: 'This is my micro:bit. The older years are jealous.' If it makes coding aspirational to Polly and all children in her school (even the older ones, who sound like they're feeling a bit left out), that will be brilliant. Who says girls can't code?

I've played a very small part in helping the micro:bit come about, sitting on the management team that has overseen its development and advising the members of my teams who have worked on the audience insight, brand development and marketing.

Seeing it arrive in schools is a real source of pride and a reminder of why the BBC is such a special place to work.

The BBC has unparalleled impact, reaching 97% of the UK population every week, and a brand purpose to inform, educate and entertain that has been its North Star for more than 90 years.

We have amazingly varied content to work with. Over recent weeks my teams have been telling me about their plans for the Olympics in August; promoting outstanding dramas; and launching the new Top Gear, this year's BBC Proms, and BBC Three as a digital service.

We have also been dealing with the audience reaction to the Helen and Rob domestic-abuse storyline in The Archers (which has resulted in significant increases in contacts to abuse helplines); advising our broadcast journalists on how to best explain the key issues on the EU referendum to UK voters; and helping to plan and manage this year's Radio 1 Big Weekend, which takes place in Exeter in late May.

This week we also reviewed the storyboards for the BBC campaign for the Euro 2016 Football Championships. The idea was presented by RKCR/Y&R as part of its pitch for the BBC last year and has come through pretty much untouched. It's a cracker and has a great endline... which, of course, I'm keeping schtum about until it launches.

Striking a balance

It's worth remembering just how much the BBC enriches the lives of everyone in the UK on a daily basis. The corporation's Charter is currently up for a renewal - a process that will decide the shape of the BBC over the next decade. It's generating a huge amount of debate. In the past month, at least six reports - by different bodies from the House of Commons and Lords to the DCMS and Welsh and Scottish Assemblies - have been published, all giving their recommendations on the kind of BBC they want to see in the next decade.

As a marketer, for me the most important report by far was the one published by the DCMS, where the audience got to have its say.

Usually, a public consultation like this might get a few thousand replies, but the one on the BBC got about 200,000.

The public said it wants a BBC with broadly the same remit it has today, but also one that can adapt, so it can continue to play that same life-enhancing role for UK citizens in the internet-based future. …

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