Fru Hazlitt wields the sales axe at ITV – but why does it seem so unconvincing?

Fru Hazlittt was appointed managing director of commercial and online at ITV when new CEO Adam Crozier and chairman Archie Norman emerged as the bosses of the (then) troubled biggest UK commercial broadcaster.

She took over from managing director of broadcast and commercial (yes, I know these titles are stupid) Rupert Howell, the former agency man at HHCL and McCanns who’d been charged with schmoozing clients through the recession.

In the middle, and charged with bringing in the business at rates that ITV, against all logic sometimes, thought it deserved was Gary Digby, an old ITV sales hand who knew how to browbeat media agencies into paying something close to the price the station wanted.

Digby’s job was sales director although, for some reason, ITV seems incapable of acknowledging that that’s a real job (even though it brings in the money) so he never got the title.

Now he’s been fired in a long-awaited review by Hazlitt and Kelly Williams, who wisely jumped from Five when Richard Desmond bought the company, has been made head of TV sales while Richard Daglish, who worked with Hazlitt in commercial radio, has been made head of online sales.

But Hazlitt has never sold TV broadcast sales at the sharp end and neither has Williams really in terms of dealing with the likes of WPP’s Group M and hundreds of millions of quid’s worth of Unilever or Procter & Gamble.

What ITV surely needs is a battle-hardened sales director, like the great Ron Miller who ran London Weekend Television’s sales, who can combine abundant charm with the ruthlessness of a New York mafia family consigliere.

Hazlitt, who very briefly became CEO of GCap before it was absorbed by Global Radio and she was dumped, has a lot to prove through these new appointments and the ungracious dumping of Digby.

ITV’s on a roll at the moment, they’d better hope it lasts.

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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.