Riding the media roller coaster - Agencies

Riding the media roller coaster - Agencies

2001 is unlikely to go down as a vintage year for the agencies. With major new business thin on the ground and the chill wind of recession settling in, consolidation and client retention have been the name of the game.

The big picture has been dominated in the latter half of the year by the Havas/WPP struggle to take Tempus down the aisle. After the protracted and messy conclusion, WPP is coming to terms with its strange victory and its Media Edge network is busy merging with Tempus lead agency CIA.

But despite the recessional gloom that looks set to stick to marketing services well into 2002, many of the agencies have had remarkably dynamic years.

After the bad fortunes of the closing portion of 2000, when Omnicom's OMD UK had the Boots task whisked away from it, and also lost Best Foods, 2001 has seen excellent recovery.

Heading the new biz league tables for both total billings and net gains, OMD pitched in with the weightiest win of the year, taking the £80million PSA task, which Carat resigned earlier in the year because of conflicts with Renault. Other new business included Express Newspapers, Amazon, MoneyeXtra and digital racing and betting venture Attheraces.

Still, the agency's run of odd luck continued in September when Anheuser-Busch decided to take its media task in-house, despite OMD's award winning work on the Budweiser brand.

The year also saw management restructuring, with Nick Barron joining as deputy head of strategic planning under Sarah Bussey, Steve Williams winning the managing director's chair and Colin Gottlieb moving to revitalize the OMD Europe network.

Share of mind

MindShare was another agency with a warm glow despite the chilly economic climate. In the year it saw £45m in new billings, picking up clients like Kodak digital, F1 Magazine, Isomatrix, United International Pictures, Threshers and E4 online.

The WPP agency has continued to grow, at a time when others have been forced into redundancy, showing 13% growth in the year, the highest rate for any top 10 media agency. It has also developed the consultancy side of its business significantly.

Internally the news has also been good, with a major management restructure complete, seeing MediaVest's Nick Theakstone joining to head the Investment division alongside Communications chief Rosie Faulkner. The agency signed a deal in October to forge a strategic alliance with Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Entertainment, to develop content ideas for brands.

Carat's group year may well be most remembered for a strategic play: resigning its Peugeot Citroën's business, run through BBJ. But the Aegis agency retains Renault, and account wins for the network include Philips Global, worth over £418m worldwide. Carat was also quietly jubilant about pipping rival Zenith to the top slot in terms of planning and buying billings earlier this year.

In Carat UK, the launch of its Communications Planning arm in May, headed by Phil Reddaway, moved the company away from its strong buying bias. Revenue growth within the group's data planning unit increased by 110% during the year, proving the increased value of consumer insight. All of which may help to make Aegis the next tempting morsel in the take-over banquet.

Zenith, meanwhile, became the fourth biggest media services company in the world when it merged with Optimedia to form the Zenith Optimedia Group. Headed by John Perriss, Zenith's worldwide chairman and chief executive, the merger and the departure of Graham Duff to Granada, sparked a management shake-up at the UK division, with Simon Marquis taking on the role of chief executive and Tim Greatrex promoted to managing director.

The practicalities of the newly-merged group have yet to emerge, but both Zenith and Optimedia are to retain their identities and cultures while using size to add reach and revenues.

While Starcom Motive had a relatively steady, if quiet, year, sibling MediaVest's year began with Andrew Sherman stepping into the head of planning role at the B/Com3 agency. As part of the Starcom MediaVest Group, the agency won the £12m Alfa Romeo planning brief in the UK, alongside the buying brief it already held.

The agency also won business from Vivid Imaginations through its Manchester arm, as well as the £3m planning and buying task for Chrysalis Radio's Heart brand. MediaVest also retained its £27m task for Associated Newspapers. The departure of Theakstone in September was a blow, however.

Meanwhile, PHD decided it was no longer New, but bounced back from the loss of key managers in 2000, with a brand new strategy.

Having seen Jon Wilkins, John Harlow and Will Collin leave last year to set up the privately backed agency Naked in January, PHD announced it had poached Tony Regan, managing partner at strategic planning shop Michaelides Bednash, to become joint managing director alongside Morag Blazey.

Regan joined former OMD UK associate director Mark Holden, who was brought in to fill the void left by Harlow, in the role of creative director at Rocket.

In the summer, the agency launched a major brand planning unit and also announced it was rebranding to lose the New in its PHD.

Although 2001 saw PHD lose its grip on the future handling of the £20m Egg account, there were also significant wins, including the £160m centralized European media strategy brief for MMO2's 02 mobile phone brand as well as in the UK the retention of the £18m Transport for London business.

Optimedia UK ended 2001 looking forward to increased buying power within the Zenith Optimedia global powerhouse and with a string of unspectacular but solid wins on the domestic front under its belt including the National Blood Service and Accoladia.

Manning Gottlieb Media, meanwhile, began the year by picking up the £10m task to handle the launch of the new Goldfish online bank. Other wins included the £8.5m consolidated business for Virgin Megastores and V Shop from incumbent Media Planning and the £6m planning and buying business for the Government-backed scientific research brand QinetiQ.

Meanwhile, MediaCom had a spate of high-profile wins, bringing in £60m in new billings including Met Police, Egg and GlaxoSmithKline. Nominated for four MediaWeek Awards, the agency is in the rare position of not having lost any business or any senior staffers across 2001.

Agency farce

But it's been the bidding war between Havas and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP for Tempus that has kept the industry entertained.

Havas, owner of MPG, kicked off the saga after making a bid for Tempus, worth a total of £425m in July. Coy at first, Sorrell finally made a counter offer at 555p a share. Clearly Sorrell saw Tempus lead agency CIA as the perfect partner to boost the muscle of his Medge Edge network in the Europe. Despite the legendary tensions between Sorrell and Tempus chairman Chris Ingram, the bid was provisionally accepted.

But in the fallout from September 11, Havas decided to pull out of the running for Tempus and Sorrell began a process of trying to extricate himself from the offer. After a bout with the Takeover Panel, Sorrell finally accept defeat.

The work underway to merge CIA and TME will create an international agency with billings of more than £10bn. However, client conflict is expected within certain brands. For instance, The Media Edge has Colgate and Palmolive, while CIA has Henkel.

In mid-November WPP appointed four senior executives to the board of Tempus in its first move since taking control of the adverting group. The question of who among the leaders of the two agencies will head up the UK operation is yet to be made.

And if Chris Ingram decides to continue his active participation in the business, it seems likely that the merger will be making news for a while to come.

Television

Most broadcasters have had a rough ride this year, but for ITV, 2001 is definitely one to forget.

No one could have predicted the overall advertising market was going to finish the year down a staggering 12% year on year.

The two ITV companies have been forced into making severe cutbacks.

Just last month, Granada announced 430 jobs were to be slashed, meaning the company will have shed more than a 1,000 staff by the end of March 2002, with a full-year loss of £186m, including £234m ploughed into its digital and online operations.

Carlton also revealed 300 staff have been axed and another 100 are to go as it announced a pre-tax loss of £409m.

But ITV had started the year well, Granada signing a £2m deal with T&T drinks to sponsor Popstars, which was to turn into one of the biggest hits of the year.

The show attracted up to 12 million viewers, a massive 48% audience share.

However, 2001 was also to see programming own goals.

One of ITV's most costly mistakes was Survivor. Billed as the TV sensation of the year, it attracted only about 5.2 million viewers on average.

Awe over Granada's news that Coca-Cola had paid £50m to sponsor ITV's The Premiership in a three-year deal also soon turned to criticism as Saturday evening's substitute for the BBC's Match of the Day performed disastrously in peak time, netting an average 4.5 million viewers.

As a result, Coca-Cola will pay Granada £4.5m less than originally agreed for the deal and following massive pressure, the network moved the show to the later slot of 10.30pm.

In October, ITV recorded its lowest peak-time ratings ever.

Last year's average share for the network was 35.3%, but during that month it plummeted to an average of 29.5%.

Revenue disasters

However, the biggest story of the year was not the ratings disasters but the alarming drop in revenue - the network has lost more than £200m.

Increased globalization, foot and mouth disease and the failure of online companies were being blamed during the year, with foot and mouth disease alone estimated to cost the network £20m.

In April, ITV finally found a new chief executive in Stuart Prebble, the Ondigital chief, filling the vacancy left by Richard Eyre more than 18 months earlier.

One of the biggest shocks was John Hardie's decision to quit the network as commercial and marketing director to take up a position at Walt Disney.

ITV poached Jim Hytner from Channel 5 to be its new marketing chief. Another senior appointment was made in September when Granada announced Zenith's Graham Duff was to become chief executive of Granada Enterprises, a move met with universal approval from the agencies.

The widespread rumour that he was going in to act as a Grim Reaper to Granada's sales team is yet to ring true, despite cuts elsewhere. His appointment was made following Mick Desmond's promotion as managing director of the new Granada Platforms division.

Granada's chairman Charles Allen made one of the gaffes of 2001 when he wrote to the Government warning ITV faced disaster if was not allowed to join with Carlton to create one ITV.

The letter was condemned by Carlton chairman Michael Green and was seen as a major faux pas by the industry.

A more positive move came at the beginning of July when ITV was rebranded to ITV1 in an effort to better reflect the family of brands.

July also saw the launch of ITV Sport amid much fanfare. However, the channel, already in financial trouble, is said to be renegotiating its Nationwide Football League contract and is yet to sign a deal with BSkyB to get on the digital platform.

That is something which, after a three-year saga, ITV managed to achieve for its ITV1 and ITV2 channels, in November announcing a £17m deal with Sky.

Early indications have shown the move to be hugely beneficial for ITV2, although the initial impacts for ITV1 have proved more marginal.

Channel 4 began 2001 with the hugely successful launch of its own offshoot, E4.

Since then, 70% of 16 to 34-year-olds have viewed the channel, although despite some home-grown hits, such as Banzai, Lost and Bar Wars, most of its success so far has come from American imports.

C4's revenue is now down by 4.1%, a loss of £26m - still not bad compared to other broadcasters, but it has had to make cutbacks.

In November, 4 Ventures closed its interactive department as a stand-alone business, merging it with pay-TV operations, in a bid to halve its £70m-a-year loss.

In July, C4 was rocked by the news that its chief executive Michael Jackson was quitting to become president and chief executive of USA Entertainment Group. His replacement, Mark Thompson, the BBC's director of television, has a challenging job ahead.

This year, Horseferry Road also lost Kevin Lygo, one of C4's brightest talents to Channel 5 and the man behind the success of So Graham Norton, Ali G and Trigger Happy TV. He also persuaded Andrew Newman, E4's director of programmes, to join him at C5.

To replace Lygo, C4 poached BBC's head of entertainment Danielle Lux.

C4 also snatched more BAFTA awards this year than the BBC and signed Richard and Judy from ITV.

Big Brother II was a massive success, becoming the TV sensation of the summer. More people voted in the finale of Big Brother IIthan in the General Election.

Channel 5 has had a depressing year revenue wise, down by 7.7% year on year, and the loss of marketing chief Jim Hytner to ITV was a severe blow.

High Five

However, there have been triumphs, not least Dawn Airey's decision to stay at C5 even though C4 extensively courted her.

It signed its biggest sponsorship deal - Bodyform paying £3m to sponsor the Aussie soap Home and Away, which has rejuvenated its early evening schedule, consistently netting a 10% share. The £1m marketing campaign to support the launch was also its biggest ever.

C5 was also given an extra £6m to spend on original programming by its shareholders, RTL and United Business Media.

C5 is also to welcome back newsreader Kirsty Young from ITV and scored another coup last month when it persuaded the team behind Top Gear to star in its new show Fifth Gear.

Among other big TV stories was the battle over the ITV news contract which saw a consortium, including CBS and BSkyB challenge ITN, placing its very future in danger.

ITN went on to win the contract, but has paid a heavy price. the new £36m deal, worth £10m less than before, will result in about 90 jobs being slashed.

Scottish Media Group, owner of two Scottish TVfranchises, also had a rough year, with 100 staff axed in view of the decline in ad revenue. Recently the company appointed Deloitte & Touche to review its financial position after running up £365m of debt and their French investment bank BNP Paribas is said to be planning to buy the company.

Amid the carnage in the commercial sector, the BBC has had a good year. For the first time its all-time share of viewing was higher than ITV's and in an ironic twist BBC Worldwide announced record profits. With the help of Bob The Builder, the corporation's commercial arm posted a £96m profit.

The BBC came under attack for its proposed new digital channels. the two children's channels and BBC4 got the thumbs up from culture secretary Tessa Jowell, but she rejected BBC3, claiming the proposed youth channel was too lightweight.

The corporation has since renewed its bid, adding at least 95 hours of current affairs, education, music and arts.

This year, senior marketer at Unilever foods Andy Duncan replaced Matthew Bannister as director of marketing and communications.

He has introduced new idents to BBC2 and revealed the BBC1 balloon logo is to be replaced.

The BBC has not been without its flops. It signed an unprecedented multi-million pound deal with Olympic boxing gold medal winner Audley Harrison, only for viewers to stay away, and a £3m two-year deal with Johnny Vaughan, whose comedy drama 'Orrible bombed.

However, it has won critical acclaim with documentaries such as Blue Planet and its spectacular series Walking With Beasts, which harnessed interactive technology, also used to great success in coverage of national sporting events such as the Golf British Open and Wimbledon.

Digital television

As the BBC triumphed in the ratings, back at ITV Stuart Prebble announced Ondigital would be rebranded to ITV Digital.

The rebranding - with the help of advertising agency Naked, an ape and comedian Johnny Vegas - has been successful, with "Monkey" becoming a media star, there's even speculation he's to release a single.

The jury, however, is still out on what the future holds for ITV Digital.

Despite a £10m marketing push and the platform adding ITV Sport to its offering, the doubts over its long-term viability remain.

By June, the closure of the platform became a real threat with Carlton and Granada blaming the Government, urging it to do more to promote digital TV and set an analogue switch-off date. The Government confirmed it would switch off analogue between 2006 and 2010, but refused to be more specific.

Meanwhile, it became clear that with subscriptions to digital pay TV platforms slowing, huge swathes of the population were unwilling to pay to "Go Digital".

That became the name of the Government's scheme piloted in August promoting consumer interest in digital. At the same time, potential alternatives to the main platforms began to emerge, such as a company called NovaPal, which unveiled plans to launch a low-cost set-top box for £100 next year offering free-to-air channels only.

While it became obvious ITV Digital couldn't go on in its present form, ITV denied closure was an option and it emerged that, behind the scenes, talks involving ITV, Sky and the BBC to create a coalition to save the DTTV platform had been in progress.

The ITV companies have already presented their plan, thought to include a three-tier pricing structure, with the mid-price package costing about £20 a month.

2001 saw a raft of digital channel closures, including joint ventures the Wellbeing Channel and Taste Network, Rapture TV and Simply Money.

A steady trickle of interactive TV ads reached the screens, while Sky merged Open into its Interactive operation.

Telewest and NTL, meanwhile, denied reports of a merger, despite working closely together. NTL shifted its interactive ad sales operation into Telewest subsidiary Flextech and the two signed a co-marketing initiative to push broadband in the UK .

The cable operators suffered in the climate, with NTL announcing it was laying off more than 8,000 employees and was on the verge of bankruptcy by the end of the year.

Newspapers

September 11 was the defining moment for most things this year and look no further for the event which best illustrates the plight facing the national press.

Since the terrorist attacks in the US, editors have been reporting on a daily diet of, to name but a few cataclysmic examples, war in Afghanistan, anthrax attacks in the States, a middle east in its worst crisis for years and David Beckham being kept on the bench.

But despite a year which has seen virtually any event your weirdest dreams could imagine come true, short of Martians landing on the Whitehouse lawn, circulation for all but a few of the nationals has continued to slide.

Not such a problem perhaps in a boom time like last year, but the national press has also been in the firing line of world economic events, which have hit three of its biggest advertisers of recent times - the financial sector, the dotcoms and the travel industry - for six.

In such a climate even the biggest of media barons have been struggling. What chance for a title like Sunday Business when the likes of Rupert Murdoch start cutting back on costs at The Times and The Sun, amid multi-million pound losses at News International, as Trinity Mirror slashes hundreds of jobs or when advertising revenue at the Financial Times goes into freefall.

Online spending has been the first to go, with many nationals taking the axe to web projects.

Editors on the move

A string of editors have also departed this year, including the Sunday Mirror's Colin Myler, after his newspaper's prejudicial reports of the Leeds United footballers' trial, Janet Street-Porter at the Independent on Sunday, as it continued to struggle, and Nils Pratley at Sunday Business, despite its rescue deal with PA.

Rosie Boycott and Michael Pilgrim, both Express editors inherited by Richard Desmond, also headed for the exit door as he became the UK's most controversial newspaper owner of the year.

The Express titles, despite bulk sales and marketing campaigns involving giving away OK! magazine, have see major redundancies and plummeting sales.

However, The Star has been one of the year's few shining lights, threatening to outsell the Express titles in the not too distant future.

Although its owner, Pearson, was one of those hit hardest by the world economic slump, the Financial Times was another to buck the downward circulation trend this year, as were the Daily Mail and The Mail of Sunday, under the powerhouse of Associated Newspapers.

The Australian cricket team of the newspaper world - apparently unflappable in all conditions - Associated was also one of the few groups to expand its national offering, gaining a foothold in Ireland with its acquisition Ireland on Sunday.

However, in newspaper terms the year belonged to the Guardian Newspaper Group and particularly The Observer, which has continued to thrive on the back of innovation and good marketing.

The launch of Observer Food Monthly, following on from the success of last year's sports offering, was one of the highlights in a depressing year for the national press, proving that readers and advertisers can still be attracted by fresh ideas.

The challenge for 2002, as advertising conditions threaten to continue hitting national newspaper revenue as hard as most things, is for more titles to come up with innovative content, at a time when budgets are being cut back.

Magazines

2001 will go down in magazine history as a year of highs, lows and A5. Glamour poured life into a stale women's market and the takeover of IPC Media by AOL Time Warner took the UK magazine market into the twenty-first century. but the industry suffered its fair share of casualties as the downturn bit.

In only the second week of the year, a hint of the advertising downturn to come emerged as the National magazine Company abandoned the launch of its women's web portal due to poor market conditions.

The first rumbles of the fate of Future Network were also heard, when the publisher warned that it would be forced to close some core games titles after a poor performance by the market over Christmas.

By the end of February, the company had closed down six of its titles and reduced its online ambitions. In June, it sold its new economy title Business 2.0 to Time Inc. By the end of the year, it had been forced to announce a £33m emergency rights issue and had lost its chairman and founder Chris Anderson.

The dual effects of the collapse of the dotcom industry and a major slump in the IT sector were blamed for Future's problems. Rival tech-heavy publishers VNU and Informa were similarly struck. VNU laid off one-sixth of its workforce amid a major restructure and the slowdown in the telecommunications industry hit Informa group, which laid off 150 staff. CMP also cut titles.

The downturn saw many companies changing their focus: VNU sold off some of its consumer titles to Finnish giant Sanoma WSOY as the company moved its focus towards business and information publishing.

While consumer publishers started the year with ambitious brand extension plans into both online and events, by the second half of the year they had been forced to scale back these activities.

The anticipated perfect fit between consumer magazines and the internet in particular failed to materialize. Emap Digital was forced to restructure its portfolio and in August IPC Media shut down its three major consumer sites - uploaded.com, beme.com and unmissabletv.com.

Troubled times

In June, Emap's attempt to take on the US came to a head when it posted losses of £527m and lost its group chief executive Kevin Hand. Emap finally sold its troubled US mag operation, Emap USA, to Premedia for a bargain basement price of £366m, less than half the price it paid for it in 1999.

AOL Time Warner acquired IPC Media from venture capitalist Cinven for £1.15bn, securing the group's future and completing the biggest transatlantic deal in magazine history. But the deal did not keep the company immune from troubled times; in November it closed six titles, including Woman's Journal and its fledgling events division, IPC live!, with the loss of 115 jobs.

Attic Futura put itself on the market and had attention from major publishers including IPC Media, Emap and Natmags, but as the year draws to a close the company has yet to find a buyer.

Natmags suspended two of its key exhibitions, The Prima Show and Cosmopolitan Show. and other victims of the challenging market conditions included Emap's Sky andIPC's Later, Emap's Kingsize and IPC's relaunched sixties title Nova. Cabal's older men's mag Mondo bit the dust. Woman's Realm was merged into Woman's Weekly and the celebrity market showed signs of strain in October when Star, the BBC's teen celebrity title, closed, and Emap's celebrity bodies was put on hold.

But difficult market conditions proved an incentive to innovate for many publishers. IPC appointed Julian Drinkall as its group strategy director to identify ways of extending the brand beyond the printed product and Cabal's Front launched a toiletries range. Emap's Smash Hits, Q and Kerrang! became TV channels and Blue Peter became a magazine.

The women's market was shaken up by three major launches - H Bauer's Real, Time Inc's InStyle and, most significantly, Condé Nast's Glamour, which managed to do the impossible and stretch a stale women's market, posting a debut ABC of 451,486, just below market leader Cosmopolitan at 452,176.

New entrants included IPC's Web User and Wallpaper's fashion title Spruce. Natmags and Emap shook up the teen girls market with the simultaneous launch of Cosmo Girl and Elle Girl.

Contract publishing came into its own this year - Sue Douglas joined Condé Nast to head its contract and internet operations; Natmags launched a contract division and John Brown shifted its focus to contract titles when it sold its consumer titles, Viz, Fortean Times and Bizarre to James Brown's I feel Good group.

The sale upped the stakes for IFG, the titles sitting happily with its existing titles and culture, and James Brown's group continues to rise above the difficult circumstances, confirming the launch of its older men's title, Project Jack, next year - a launch which is hoping to provide a much-needed shake-up of the men's market.

New media

The pin of economic reality poking at the dotcom bubble was as sharp this year as it was in 2000.

High-profile closures included IPC's Beme.com, unmissabletv.
com and uploaded.com in August, with the loss of 90 jobs, and StepStone UK going into voluntary liquidation in November, with the loss of 135 jobs

The portals continued to attract a disproportionate share of online media spend. MSN even launched a £68m worldwide marketing campaign in September.

Yahoo! has high hopes for next year, as it became the official World Cup online partner in September, although it has since announced plans to cut its workforce by 10% worldwide.

The need for accountability continued to trouble the sector, with Rivals.net chief executive Marcus Leaver (pictured) challenging websites to "audit or be damned" in a column in Media Week in June. However, he later relaxed his stance as he felt the Interactive Advertising Bureau was being more proactive in encouraging websites to have a recognised audit.

The Chrysalis New Media-owned Rivals.net was this month involved in one of the last mergers of the year when it joined with 365 Corporation, with up to half of the companies' combined workforce of 120 expected to be laid off. On the auditing side, NetRatings recently agreed to acquire Jupiter Media Metrix, valued at £48.9m, in the US.

The major online event

The major event in the online agency sector was Grey Worldwide's merger of its sister online agencies Beyond Interactive and MediaCom. Independent agencies continued to perform strongly, with Profero winning the beeb.com media and creative task in November and the same month seeing I-level scoop the £2m William Hill online media account. The traditional agencies' digital divisions also began to lead the field, notably Carat Interactive and Mdigital, which ran an online-only launch campaign for the Volvo S60 and attracted five million hits to the dedicated site.

The consolidation that had been threatening to effect the online sales market suddenly all happened at once in November, with the Real Media and 24/7 Media merger in the US quickly followed by AdLink's acquisition of DoubleClick's European media business. The first move surprised some as 24/7 had closed its own European operation in August, after the failure of a rescue bid launched
by chief operating officer Carl White, who moved to ValueClick as UK managing director.

The last worry of the year for the online industry came when Members of the European Parliament took a step towards banning cookies. Many fear that the vote to amend the proposed legislation on the draft directive on electronic data collection and privacy will mean that web-users have to reconfirm their details every time a page is loaded.

Outdoor

"Sex, death and outdoor adverts - a recipe for controversy" was one of the headlines Media Week ran about the outdoor industry in 2000 (Media Week, May 11). The piece referred to the controversy surrounding the Yves St Laurent poster featuring a naked Sophie Dahl and the increasing use of outdoor as the medium of choice for controversy-hungry creatives.

More argument followed with the debate over fly-posting, prompted by several high-profile campaigns' use of the illegal medium. Research by Concord found an industry divided over its use - with 77% of creative directors condoning fly-posters, compared to 80% of media bosses who condemned it.

But 2001 wasn't all about controversy. The year was marked, instead, by serious uncertainty on the revenue front. While talk of an advertising recession grew through the first half of the year, outdoor emerged relatively unaffected, with the election providing a prosperous springtime for contractors.

At the end of March, Media Week ran a piece in which a number of media luminaries suggested fears of a global advertising collapse were exaggerated.

JCDecaux chief executive Jeremy Male said: "While the market is not as buoyant as last year, it is still not forecast to be a total collapse."

With the summer and a rise in short-notice bookings, it was clear outdoor wasn't going to be immune to the effects of the advertising downturn and the events of September 11 affected the sector in line with the rest of the industry.

But recession hasn't knocked the industry's ambitions in other areas. Ambient media continued to proliferate with table-top ads, water cooler cup ads, lamppost ads, View Loos, pizza box ads and TV screens in buses and cabs joining the plethora of opportunities in the ambient sector this year.

Another innovation saw Maiden and ITN offer news and information on huge video screens in major railway stations.

It was business as usual in other ways, with all the major groups expanding their interests overseas. Maiden acquired three Irish companies (Canberra, Network Poster Advertising and Outworks) in July. Also in July, Clear Channel bought Spain's largest bus advertising company Transpublisa for £30m, adding to acquisitions and contracts in Germany, Italy and Holland, which included a deal with leading German street furniture company Wall AG. Clear Channel's Adshel also scooped the $500m (£348m) contract for street furniture in Singapore in June.

JCDecaux took two outdoor contracts in Buenos Aires worth a total of £56m and finally succeeded in floating on the Paris Eurnext exchange in June, with a value of £2.2bn.

Meanwhile, TDI rebranded as Viacom Outdoor, More Group created the largest taxi advertising company in the UK with the acquisition of Taxi Media and promoted sales and marketing director Julie France to the role of managing director of Adshel.

Radio

Like TV, radio experienced the downward slope of the media cycle this year. The last quarter of 2001 has seen a succession of profit warnings and some fire sales. But the static of recent months was off set by a sense that 2001 was about preparing the ground for better things in the shape of consolidation, the arrival of digital radio and a return to revenue growth.

The Wireless Group had one of the bumpiest rides on the roller coaster. TWG's sales chief Tim Bleakley started the year celebrating a positive set of Rajar results by dressing up as a Gladiator for a trade press campaign and claiming in TalkSport's typically brash style: "Maximus Manus: for copius biggus dickus, call Impactus."

He ended the year by quitting TalkSport after a round of cuts and heading for a broadcast job at Emap.

Meanwhile, his TWG boss Kelvin MacKenzie launched a series of verbal attacks on the BBC for vices that ranged from anti-competitive behaviour to wasting taxpayers' money. In July, Greg Dyke hit back, calling the former Sun editor a "pathetic whinger".

With the ad slump biting, MacKenzie was forced to sell off some of the businesses he'd spent the past few years acquiring in a bid to reduce TWG's debts. Scot FM went to the Guardian Media Group and was relaunched as Real Radio; while Wave 105 went to Scottish Radio Holdings for £18m in November.

SRH also made a move in to the Irish market, buying Radio Ireland, owner of major station Today FM. Other deals saw Capital take a stake in black-music station Choice FM and RTL put Atlantic 252 on the market, attracting radio and online group Teamtalk as a buyer.

The impact of the ad recession prompted more Communication Bill posturing than expected. The departure of Emap chief executive Kevin Hand and the return of Robin Miller prompted speculation as to the outcome of a company-wide review. Emap was forced to deny that it was considering the sale of some of its radio assets, including Kiss FM - named Media Brand of the Year at the Media Week Awards 2001.

Meanwhile, in November, GWR said it would consider offers for its European interests, after announcing a 70% drop in half-year profits. It denied its UK assets were on the market, but sold its Classic Gold digital network to UBC Media.

2001 saw the end of Chris Evans' tempestuous radio career when Virgin Radio sacked him from its breakfast slot after he failed to turn up to work for six days. Capital's Steve Penk filled the gap. "Penky"
celebrated with a major sponsorship deal with McDonald's and had won two million listeners a week in the last Rajars.

There was good news at Jazz FM, too, with the station reporting it had made a yearly profit for the first time.

Regional press

Who is going to buy Regional Independent Media prompted the most speculation this year, with the Guardian Media Group, Johnston Press, Gannett UK and Associated Newspapers all pursuing RIM. However, the Department of Trade and Industry has extended the deadline for bids until next November.

Johnston Press got as far as handing over £16.1m for eight Trinity Mirror Midlands titles in July, only for it to be blocked on competition grounds by Competition Minister Melanie Johnston.

Sustained by local advertisers, the regional press sector did not suffer as badly as some other media this year. Indeed, in August, Johnston Press recorded a 14% rise in pre-tax profits to £43m and a 3.2% like-for-like growth in ad revenue, while in November, RIM announced a 9.4% growth in pre-tax profits.

Regional publishers were helped by the Newspaper Society, which continued to sell the sector to the agencies and urge cross-company co-operation.

This co-operation was seen in Associated and GMG teaming up to launch Metro in Manchester in February, with Associated providing content and GMG handling local sales.

However, the sector also saw many workers losing their jobs. Trinity Mirror announced 800 job cuts in July, after its pre-tax profits fell by 10% during the first half of the year.

On the sales front, Amra and Newsquest's managing directors, Lisa Bourne and Gary McNish, swapped jobs.

Amra, Trinity Mirror's national sales house, announced a management shake-up which will see Mike McCormack (pictured) quit his role as chief executive in February and day-to-day running taken over by McNish.

Chairman John Eccleston is also stepping down after three years in the role.

Amra recently poached Newsquest's national sales director Sue Bebber to head up its London sales team, while Belfast Telegraph Newspapers commercial director John Leslie returned to Glasgow during the summer to take up the role of ad director on the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail.

Northcliffe Newspapers managing director Alec Davidson resigned in September with the admission that he had ploughed too much money into the company's online operations.

He was replaced by the chief operating officer at Associated New Media, Kevin Beatty.

The regionals' online fortunes were mixed. Trinity slashed its web spending by 45%, whereas Northcliffe Newspapers revamped its This Is websites in October.

Fish4 doesn't seem to have been as troubled and committed £2m to marketing in May.

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