Media Bitch's Diary 28 January

What was the gossip about the Guardian at the ANNAs? Who did Jeremy Hunt call to give his 'spin' on the BSkyB bid? What happened when GroupM met Duran Duran? And can ShortList's Mike Soutar really run 26 miles?

Rhona Livesey from the NMA, comedian John Bishop, News International Commercial md and NMA chair Paul Hayes, NMA chief executive Maureen Duffy and the NMA's Delores Ambrosio
Rhona Livesey from the NMA, comedian John Bishop, News International Commercial md and NMA chair Paul Hayes, NMA chief executive Maureen Duffy and the NMA's Delores Ambrosio

Cocktails and controversy at the ANNAs

There WERE non-alcoholic drinks on offer at the Awards for National Newspaper Advertising at The Mall Galleries, but once the 20-somethings had discovered the cocktail den at the back of the venue, it was full steam ahead for a night that stretched on to The Albannach in Trafalgar Square.

Newspaper Marketing Agency chair Paul Hayes opened proceedings, while Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop - who abandoned a career in marketing because it prevented him watching a European Cup Final game in Istanbul - raised a laugh from guests including the Daily Mail’s managing director Guy Zitter and News International Commercial’s Clare Myerscough (pictured below).

The evening was also of note as the origin of the rumour that when the Guardian sold the Manchester Evening News to Trinity Mirror for £7.4m, it somehow included the £50m MEN building in the sale.

Turns out there was no truth in that particular gossip though - the building was just "leased to solicitors", as the Guardian moved swiftly to make clear the following morning. Onwards and upwards for The Scott Trust!

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Keys…

If you haven’t already heard it, click here for the "sorry" interview that Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys gave to TalkSport in an attempt to right the many wrongs he and colleague Andy Gray inflicted on Sian Massey and Karren Brady.

In his rambling, 15-minute diatribe, Keys compared Sky to a Rolls Royce, revealed how West Ham vice-chairman Brady refused to return his call (funny that) and confirmed: "Our prehistoric banter is not acceptable in a modern world."

But his best line - which Sky Sports executives may or may not agree with - was: "We [Keys and Gray] have done an awful lot to make Sky a success."

He added, just hours before his subsequent resignation: "There are many people drinking from the well that we dug and enjoying that success." Just a shame that well has now turned into a rather large hole…

Jeremy Hunt puts his ‘gloss’ on BSkyB takeover

Steve Auckland, managing director of Associated’ Newspapers' free newspapers division, was somewhat opaque on Metro’s "record" 2010 revenues at the paper’s breakfast briefing this week. "We have put clear blue water between ourselves and 2009," he hedged, vaguely indicating the paper made about the same amount of money last year as The Express.

Luckily, diversion came in the form of journalism professor and columnist Roy Greenslade, who excused himself briefly to take a call on his mobile, re-emerging to announce that it had been culture secretary Jeremy Hunt on the line.

"He wants to spin," Greenslade told the assembled company gleefully, before disappearing into the bowels of Northcliffe House to write his column for the following day’s Evening Standard.

So what could Hunt have been so keen to put his own gloss on? Surely, his announcement earlier that morning that he is prepared to consider "undertakings in lieu" with regards to Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB needs no ‘managing’ in the media…does it?

Karen Blackett comes back to her roots

Most media companies pitch their products to media agencies by giving a PowerPoint presentation to a handful of hand-picked planners.

Not so the new online music service Vevo, set to launch in the UK in April, whose executive vice-president of sales and customer operations David Kohl shipped in Duran Duran, no less, to meet GroupM staff at MediaCom’s offices on Monday.

After a preview of the video for the band’s new album All You Need is Now, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, John Taylor and Simon Le Bon posed for photos in Rich’s Bar with a select band of senior executives including Claudine Collins, Tom George, Nick Theakstone, Karen Blackett and Jane Ratcliffe.

Also admitted into the inner sanctum were more junior competition winners, who had answered five questions correctly including: "What was the name of the first record Karen Blackett ever bought?"

The answer is the 1981 track "Going Back To My Roots" by soul band Odyssey - perhaps a fitting choice for the former UK marketing director who has returned, via a spell overseas in an EMEA role, to rule MediaCom's domestic roost.

Paramedics on standby as Soutar runs... and runs

And finally: spare a thought for ShortList Media’s chief executive Mike Soutar, who has bravely signed up to run the London Marathon on 17 April to raise £5k for the British Heart Foundation.

Soutar hopes to finish the marathon "within daylight hours" - but, on the basis that the furthest he has ever run in his life is ten miles, that is no certainty.

It is also uncertain whether Soutar will, as ShortList Media investor Kris Thykier queries on Soutar's Just Giving page, hand out copies of his magazines ShortList and Stylist as he runs? An interesting approach to cutting distribution costs.

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