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Fru Hazlitt sets out her post-Gary Digby sales agenda for ITV

New ITV marketing boss Fru Hazlitt has been telling the Financial Times (registration required) how she intends to “wean” ITV away from its reliance on 30-second commercials (“hideously cyclical”) and make it the UK’s pre-eminent “marketing platform.”

This apparently means boosting its online offer, securing partnerships with the likes of Facebook and encouraging more advertiser-funded programming.

She says the new sales team, taking over from axed sales director Gary Digby and his team, has more “credibility to sell online as well as TV.”

Well incoming sales director Kelly Williams from Channel Five has sold some TV in his time but not nearly as much Digby. The other incoming senior salesman Simon Daglish, who worked with Hazlitt at radio operator GCap, latterly toiled as head of ad sales at Rupert Murdoch’s struggling MySpace.

Hazlitt says ITV’s past concentration on “large sums of money” (big TV campaigns presumably) meant that it devoted insufficient time to “smaller, more work-intensive products.” But you can see the temptation can’t you?

And she hopes to usher in a more collaborative, less adversarial negotiation era with media agencies. But do they?

As one unnamed media agency curmudgeon tells the FT: “If ITV’s ambition is to reinvent themselves I don’t think that involves terminating the most senior sales people.”

The intrepid Ms Hazlitt clearly has much work to do.

Surely the truth is that she, and maybe her bosses Adam Crozier and Archie Norman, decided the sales traditionalist Digby’s style didn’t fit. Otherwise it would have been much easier to keep him and match him with a heavy-hitting online sales boss armed with their own team.

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As things now stand the company is already on the back foot, defending a new sales strategy that fails to convince.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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