Editorial

Executive searchThere was a time, not so long ago, when media properties were in a world of their own, many of them unassailable institutions that chugged along year after year consistently delivering loyal audiences and huge profits. For the big and...

Executive search

There was a time, not so long ago, when media properties were in a world of their own, many of them unassailable institutions that chugged along year after year consistently delivering loyal audiences and huge profits. For the big and successful, sales and marketing amounted to – for the most part – arranging lavish parties, handing out rate cards, pins and watches, and filling out orders.

All of this has changed. Dramatically.

Beginning with the once mighty television networks, right on down to the local daily newspaper, media sales people find themselves today scrapping for every dollar, much like the advertisers whose commercial messages they carry. Suddenly, publishers and broadcast executives realize that to get these dollars they must arm their sales forces with demonstrations of creativity and marketing imagination, as much as costs-per-thousand. They need new ideas.

So it is not surprising, then, that the media are looking outside of their own executive suites in search of help.

The first big attention-getting foray was by the CTV Television Network, which ventured into the Campbell Soup Company where the network found its new president, marketing-trained John Cassaday. Maclean’s magazine ended up at Ontario’s Guelph University, recruiting 49-year-old president Brian Segal as its new publisher.

And now, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, seems to be contributing to the trend with the announcement that David Clark, Campbell Soup chairman, president and chief executive officer will replace the Globe’s Roy Megarry as publisher. Clark also comes from the marketing ranks and, judging from the turnaround in both operations and public profile that he helped engineer at Campbell – not to mention producing alumni such as Cassaday and his second-in-command Paul Robertson – the Globe is surely headed towards exciting new waters.

In these uncertain times, about the only thing that can be said for sure is that competition will get tougher. The push to innovate is on in full force. In the news columns of this issue of Strategy alone, we find two examples of media offering added-value opportunities to their clients.

- The Globe delivered about 160,000 boxes of Harvest Crunch Light Blend cereal to home delivery subscribers, nicely timed to arrive on doorsteps Saturday morning when people have a little more time to linger over their breakfast and try something new.

The paper has already done this with filter packs of Maxwell House coffee.

- TV Guide, a proven vehicle for direct response marketers, is planning to launch a co-op envelope as a kind of brand extension that will give subscribers an interesting packet of coupons, samples and product information, and advertisers another way of reaching a highly sought-after circulation list.

In the grand scheme of things, these may not be considered blockbuster deals. But they are significant as a sign that the media are coming down to earth.

The media, it appears, has got the message.