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Did ITV get rid of Rupert Howell too soon?

Well we only ask because ITV’s orders for the World Cup and beyond are going through the roof and much of this is said to be the result of axed commercial boss Rupert Howell’s dedicated schmoozing of clients.

Howell and former executive chairman Michael Grade (a silver-tongued duo if ever there was one, or two) spent much of their time trying to gain access to top clients, which means CEOs rather than marketing directors, trying to persuade them that TV advertising was the way to grow their businesses out of recession.

And if you look at the numbers coming in they seem to have done a good job.

But now Grade has left, to be replaced by a combo of Archie Norman and Adam Crozier, and Howell has gone too, to be replaced by former GCap Radio and Yahoo UK boss Fru Hazlitt.

But are the new lot any better than the old lot?

Howell didn’t make many friends among UK media agencies in his time at ITV. They resented the way he went over their heads to talk to clients direct. They much prefer a world in which media owners come to them, say these are our ratings and do a deal based on station average price.

Hazlitt, one suspects, won’t be doing any of this. She’ll be exploring new sources of revenue while Gary Digby, sales director in all but name, tries to do the deals that matter.

But the ever-ebullient Rupert just might have cashed in on ITV’s recent upsurge by creating long-lasting relationships with really big advertisers.

But we’ll never know, will we?

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Adam Crozier Fru Hazlitt Gary Digby itv Michael Grade Rupert Howell

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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