Finally, a TV network taking its own marketing seriously

So how many companies with annual revenues of more than a billion dollars can you think of that don’t have a chief marketing officer?

With the possible exception of mining firms, TV networks are the only ones I can think of.

Which is why new Ten boss James Warburton’s appointment of Tony McMaster as CMO may turn out to be the most significant move he has yet made.

For a while now, I’ve been puzzled why the networks don’t give board level priority to marketing.

Funnily enough, it’s only a few weeks since a media agency boss told me somewhat derisively that a particular network’s marketing strategy was based on the contra deals with other media owners that could be done in the back of taxis.

Another was just as puzzled at the relatively low priority given to marketing by all of the networks when even shifting viewing share by a single percentage point – let alone bringing in new television viewers – would make millions of dollars of difference.

When it’s done well, it works. Look at Revenge, on Seven. That was marketed brilliantly, and delivered 2m viewers.

But all of the networks focus almost exclusively on individual shows, not on building brand. In TVland, we’re always in the midst of an everything-must-go, final-24-hours sale.

In other markets,  TV networks CMOs have the sort of profile – and respect in the market – you’d associate with a billion dollar brand.

When did one of our networks last create a brilliant, memorable ad campaign for its brand? (And I don’t mean a promo – they do those well, of course).

Until Ten’s move, the marketing function always came under the wing of the sales director. They may like and respect marketers, but it would unlikely that the best person for the job to run the network’s sales operation would also be the best person for the job to run the marketing.

Of course, it will only make a significant impact if Ten now backs itself and makes the marketing investments that go along with it – a real media budget, not contra; a decent creative agency.

Ten’s move offers what is potentially a major competitive advantage. It will be interesting to see how long it takes its rivals to respond.

Tim Burrowes


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