Magazine article Marketing

ITV Merger Must Not Delay Hunt for Eyre's Successor

Magazine article Marketing

ITV Merger Must Not Delay Hunt for Eyre's Successor

Article excerpt

When Richard Eyre and his ITV management team stand up before UK advertisers next week to deliver their annual report, it will be the next 12 months, rather than the past year, that will concern their audience.

No-one can argue about the job Eyre, David Liddiment and John Hardie have done in the past two years at turning around both the performance and perception of the ITV brand. They have earned their bonuses. Between them they have delivered on promises of growing peak-time audiences, helped by extra doses of Coronation Street, the success of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, high quality drama and moving News at Ten.

As importantly, they have also transformed the relationship between the advertising and agency community and ITV itself. For too many years, ITV's senior management were regarded as aloof, arrogant and out of touch with the advertising community. The boys in the sales houses dealt with the grubby business of taking money to pay for the programmes, and if advertisers didn't like what they were getting, they could always take their money elsewhere.

The creation of real competition, and inevitable decline in ITV's dominance, put paid to that way of thinking. ITV realised, almost too late, that it needed a dialogue with its customers on a more sophisticated level than explaining Station Average Price. Enter Richard Eyre and his new ITV.

But Eyre's 1999 annual report will be his last. At the end of the month, he is off to Pearson. There is no word of a replacement, and his role, until a successor arrives, will be divided between senior management, including ITV Network chairman Leslie Hill. …

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