The master marketer returns: can Mark Buckman’s magic strike thrice?

Foxtel rolled the marketing dice this week in announcing the return of Mark Buckman to lead its customer experience. Simon Canning discusses why Foxtel chose the man who has reshaped two of Australia’s biggest brands.

Mumbrella Awards 2013 Mark BuckmanThe return of Mark Buckman to Australian shores two years after he headed to the UK to try his hand will be one of the most closely monitored marketing moves in recent times.

Buckman has built an enviable track record since he first departed the advertising agency world and McCann Worldgroup to move client-side with the Commonwealth Bank.

His career in marketing has been shaped by bold moves such as sacking the Comm Bank’s agency, STW, and taking the Aussie bank overseas to San Francisco’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

The result of the the move proved controversial, with the agency arriving on Australian shores with a campaign starring blockbuster director Michael Bay that was a parody of the advertising industry and banking.

Backed with the line ‘Determined to be Different’, the campaign was met with mixed reactions from an ad industry which questioned why an overseas agency needed to be drafted in.

However, Buckman persevered with the agency and the strategy in the face of criticism, turning the tide for the bank with a strategy that Comm Bank hailed as a success on his departure five years later.

Buckman’s move to Telstra saw him join another former agency man, Mark Collis, who was in charge of creativity and brand content, with the telco then proceeding to completely overhaul its silo-based marketing strategy and bringing in the tagline: ‘It’s How We Connect’.

Collis left the telco shortly after the launch but Buckman continued to impress internally, expanding his CMO empire to include becoming head of digital and IPTV, overseeing the launch of T-Media.

Prior to his sudden departure to the UK in 2014 he was named group managing director for media and marketing, taking responsibility for all of Telstra’s brand and digital media activities and the brand’s metrics and customer experience ratings continued to rise.

Buckman was also the inaugural chairman for the Mumbrella Awards in 2012.

While reshaping a bank and uniting a fragmented telco brand may have been his biggest challenges to date, Buckman faces an even bigger mountain – reinvigorating Foxtel’s customer experience as the pay-TV company battles against the growing market share of low-margin video streaming players and the multi-channel offers of free-to-air rivals.

Buckman brings the experience of developing and marketing an IPTV model from Telstra and, perhaps even more importantly, an understanding of the complex relationship Telstra has with its current joint-venture partners in News Corp Australia. This will be important ahead of the a potential IPO for the pay-TV business.

He will have to work hard to reshape perceptions of the value that Foxtel brings to consumers, with recent polls suggesting both Netflix and Stan are now streets ahead in the minds of consumers when it comes to customer satisfaction and value for money.

Just what Buckman has promised to deliver and how he intends to do it is, of course, the million-dollar question.

With the brand now back at the agency that helped it in its early days, Whybin/TBWA, a creative agency review is not expected to be part of the mix.

But whatever Buckman is plotting, past experience suggests he will be aggressive with the brand. At both the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra he left the businesses in better shape than he found them.

Foxtel and CEO Peter Tonagh are hoping with Buckman, lightening strikes thrice.

Simon Canning is Mumbrella’s marketing and advertising editor


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