It always looked likely that Rupert Howell, the former HHCL and McCanns chief, ITV’s managing director of brand and commercial, would run out of room on the arrival of another former agency man Adam Crozier as CEO.
The station is now run by chairman Archie Norman (a very busy non-executive chairman), Crozier and programme and online boss Peter Fincham. Former Channel 4 programme boss Kevin Lygo has also been recruited to run ITV Studios, the production arm.
Howell’s brief was to schmooze clients and it’s hard to work out how far he succeeded. ITV has come through a torrid few years as ad revenue has dived; would it have done any worse (or better) without Rupert?
What ITV now needs, and will surely try to recruit, is a good old-fashioned sales director, someone like Ron Miller who ran the sales at London Weekend Television before it was bought by Granada. Miller combined charm and popularity with a very big stick when required. Times have changed at ITV since of course but the need for a hard-nosed approach to sales has not.
As for Howell, who made his reputation initially as new business director at Young & Rubicam under buccaneering chairman John Banks, he finds himself at just the latest of various crossroads in his life. When he went to ITV he seemed to have abandoned the agency life but it’s doubtful that he has earned enough broadcaster credentials to land a really big media job.
But all those client contacts he’s been making will surely make him attractive to one of the networks. Or he could try another start-up. HHCL in its very brief heyday was a fine agency.