Review of the year 2004

It was the year that the men’s market went Nuts, Greg Dyke was banished from the BBC and newspapers entered compact revolution. Amanda Lennon picks over the bones of 2004

JANUARY

As far as magazines are concerned, 2004 was the year of the men’s weekly. And, just like buses, we waited ages for one to come along and then two arrived at the same time.

The UK’s two biggest publishers, IPC and Emap, brought out their big marketing guns for the respective launches of Nuts and Zoo.

Nuts was first out on January 22. Zoo followed a week later. Their rivalry was to provide a backdrop for the early months of the year, with samples, stunts and price slashing aplenty.

Meanwhile, Archant finalised a deal for the remaining 15 titles being sold by Independent News and Media, making use of a legal loophole to avoid a competition investigation.

Overnight, Archant became the fifth-biggest regional publisher.

There was also some high-profile movin’ and shakin’ going down in January. Tim Schoonmaker, credited with a pivotal role at Emap, building its radio and music empire, left the company to pursue other interests and Justin Sampson made the move from radio as the director of the Radio Advertising Bureau to TV, as director of customer relationship management at the newly merged ITV.

In the agency world there was a good start to the year for Universal McCann as it clinched the £10m media planning and buying for Rank Hovis McDougall, the parent company behind the Hovis, Mr Kipling, Sharwoods and Bisto brands.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell warned of a digital blackout, saying the Government would take action to prevent the potential 2025% of people who cannot receive digital television from being in the dark, and refused to confirm a date for analogue switch off.

Speculation grew about the Barclay brothers buying The Daily Telegraph amid rumours of counterbids from other newspapers.

The media jobs market bounced back with a vengeance after three years of misery and the green light was given for ITV’s third channel after an anticipated wave of investment following the Carlton and Granada merger.

A year of tumultuous change in the broadsheet newspaper market began as The Independent ’s tabloid version started its nationwide roll-out and The Times compact widened its distribution.

The Indy started publishing its first tabloidonly Saturday edition on 31 January.

Oh, and speaking of change, Media Week introduced its new and improved recipe – a true magazine format, with news off the front cover and features leading the agenda each week.


FEBRUARY

In the wake of the Hutton report, the BBC came under fire. As the issue moved to the top of the political agenda, Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies were forced out – leaving the Beeb in turmoil.

Almost immediately, there was speculation that Dyke would take up the top job at the newly created ITV plc.

Advertising revenue figures for national newspapers were to be published monthly, following heavy lobbying by Newspaper Marketing Agency boss, Maureen Duffy.

BLM walked off with one of the biggest scalps in recent months, winning the planning and buying account for Swedish telecoms giant, Tele2, estimated to be worth £30m a year. In a month to remember, BLM also claimed the Lastminute.com account, worth £5m a year.

ITV News launched its new on-air look, sinking £1m into its “theatre of news” set and moving its News at Ten bulletin to 10.30pm. Ofcom appointed entrepreneur Luke Johnson as the new chairman of Channel 4.

The radio sector showed signs of recovery, helped by the announcement that Ofcom would be creating 35 new FM licences.

Rajar results showed Capital Radio back at number one in the battle for a crucial share of the listeners.

MPG announced a major internal restructure, including the abolition of its board of directors as rumours spread that its parent company, Havas, was a takeover target. Havas lost its chairman, Bob Schmetterer, and had to issue a formal statement denying alleged accounting irregularities.

ZenithOptimedia deputy managing director, Tom George was announced as Mediaedge: cia’s new managing director.

And it was suggested that a future Conservative government could consider introducing advertising to the BBC while scrapping the licence fee. This was the suggestion of former Five boss David Elstein’s independent Broadcast Policy Group – charged by the Tories with finding a long-term strategy for the corporation.

MARCH

A boom in the worldwide advertising market was heralded as WPP reported good preliminary results for 2003.

Channel 4 was rumoured to be abandoning its public service broadcasting status and planning to join forces with rival Five.

ITV appointed Peter Burt as its new chairman, replacing Michael Green, placing pressure on ITV chief executive Charles Allen to generate profit for the company.

The Scotsman jumped on the bandwagon and went compact, with The Independent on Sunday muddying the waters again with a compact business supplement.

Tessa Jowell revealed to the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ conference that the Government was still open to curbs on advertising junk food to children.

PHD announced a restructure, merging its main and group boards into one, in a bid to bring its specialist agencies closer together.

ZenithOptimedia’s worldwide chief executive, John Perriss, quit to concentrate on non-executive and advisory roles in media and business.

IPC, Capital and Viacom announced the start of crossmedia deals through a partnership called RSVP (Real Sound, Vision and Print) in a bid to compete against Emap’s offering. Crossmedia became the phrase of the month.

The regional press lost its second marketing director in a year after The Newspaper Society’s Russell Collier left.

Emap rung the death knell on two of the magazine world’s most well known brands – The Face and J17 .

Walker Media clinched the biggest single piece of media so far this year with high-street retailer Halfords moving its £10m planning and buying account from incumbent PHD.

Hamish Pringle, head of the IPA called for an overhaul of the pitch process, asking agencies to say “No” to what he claimed was widespread exploitation by clients.

And, at the start of a busy year for Kelvin MacKenzie,he carried out his threat to sue Rajar over the way it measures radio audiences.


APRIL

As the radio-audience debate heated, research carried out by NOP on behalf of Transport for London and its media agency PHD showed that GfK’s electronic watch system is twice as accurate as the diaries used by Rajar.

The AAR added its voice to calls for clients to contribute toward agencies’ pitch costs and even suggested pitch contracts should be drawn up.

The £75m Peugeot and Citroën account came up for grabs with pitches due to take place in the summer.

At the first Media 360 conference in St Andrews, Scotland, Trinity Mirror boss Sly Bailey argued in a keynote address that agencies and advertisers would be rewarded if they learned to trust media owners and were open to innovative ideas for advertising campaigns.

Also at 360, Omnicom agency PHD revealed it was moving to integrate its strategists with sister creative agency AMV. And The managing director of the Evening Standard , Mike Anderson, launched a scathing attack on the role of procurement teams in media, claiming procurement posed a potentially fatal threat to the industry.

Heart 106.2FM prepared to do battle with Capital 95.8FM by launching a marketing ambush on the same day as Johnny Vaughan slid into the breakfast-show chair.

The RSVP alliance won a £2m deal to turn mobile phone giant O 2 into a music sponsor through sponsorship of 30 live music concerts across the UK over the summer.

Sky unveiled details of an audience-research programme in a bid to woo advertisers away from terrestrial TV.

Tobacco manufacturers fought to defend point-of-sale promotions, the last territory available for their marketing activities.

A report suggested agencies need to be more selective about the accounts they pitch for and their offering to advertisers to prevent being all things to all clients.

Another fatality in the magazine market: IPC Southbank decided to close 19, one of the market’s oldest monthly magazines for young women.

The IPA president, Steven Woodford, urged agency bosses to adopt new employment practices after it was revealed that the average big agency was spending as much money on redundancies as it does on recruitment.

Clear Channel’s Adshel won the largest street furniture contract to come up in two decades. The £100m contract was awarded to Adshel by transport authority Centro.

And Mark Craze, chief executive of Aegis’ UK and Ireland operations made a shock departure from the company after being passed over for the European chief executive role.

Meanwhile, the Beeb challenged Sky to unite with it to work on the development of a freetoair digital satellite TV platform.


MAY

Channel 4 prepared itself for the biggest night of the year.

It revealed that it would be broadcasting the last episode of Friends and the launch of Big Brother ’s fifth series on the same night.

Agencies and advertisers urged TV bosses to speed up the introduction of their new marketing body after complaining of little progress toward repairing the medium’s relationship with its customers.

Universal McCann won the £19m media planning and buying account for insurance company More Than.

The latest and biggest agency network to pool its buying power, Omnicom, announced the formation of a central negotiating unit to handle billings approaching £1m a year – it would be called Opera.

Capital grew its lead against Heart for the second successive group of Rajar results.

Agencies braced themselves for a wave of consolidation as clients got set to follow the example of HSBC and use one agency network to handle their global business.

The Independent continued to be the major success story on the national newspaper scene as the ABCs were released, showing a 15.4% year-on-year average daily circulation increase.

Media agencies pushed for new ad-price deals with The Independent and The Times compacts feeling they were over-paying for smaller creative with less impact.

Advertisers in the food industry were lambasted by Tessa Jowell at Westminster’s diet and health forum for failing to take strong action on the growing debate over the alleged link between rising child obesity and advertising.

It was an issue that refused to go away in 2004.


JUNE

The announcement of WH Smith’s range review and the replacement of traditional newsagents by space-conscious supermarkets threatened to force dozens of consumer and specialist magazine titles out of business.

It was an issue that was to be revisited – in typically colourful fashion – by Felix Dennis later in the year.

Cross-media remained cool, with Hachette Filipacchi joining forces with the cross-media partnership, RSVP, by signing a deal with MTV.

The Commons’ health select committee published a damning report warning that the industry was running out of chances to regulate itself.

Managing director of the Evening Standard , Mike Anderson, defended his publication following calls from media agencies for a drastic overhaul of the title.

The final round of bidding for the Telegraph titles ended with the Daily Mail and General Trust seen to be the favourite to complete the most expensive acquisition in history.

ITV was accused of throwing its trading weight around by trying to force ITV2 onto advertising schedules, using it as a “deal breaker” when negotiating with agencies.

ZenithOptimedia risked losing the £13m Müller Foods UK account after the German based firm’s head office puts the account out to pitch.

ITV lost its marketing director, Jim Hytner, to Barclay’s Bank amid speculation that ITV’s poorly performing schedule could see it lose £100min advertising revenue.

TV sales chiefs were in talks to devise a marketing initiative to salvage the sector’s much-criticised marketing track record.


JULY

In the heat of the summer, procurement directors at nearly half the European firms that took part in a new survey said they were being kept in the dark by their marketing departments overhow much was spent on advertising.

The next round of global consolidation was triggered by reports that EdMeyer, chief executive and chairman of Grey Global, had hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to look into a possible sale.

The Radio Advertising Bureau unveiled a campaign to promote the medium’s suitability for engaging consumers emotionally.

Channel 4 surprised the broadcast industry by naming the BBC’s top marketing executive, Andy Duncan, as it’s new chief executive.

The Aegis network launched the world’s largest combined global digital offering for advertisers under the banner, Isobar.

ITV revealed a line-up of new shows in a bid to avoid losing £100m in advertising revenue under the terms of the contract rights renewal agreement.

Retailers were accused of damaging the publishing industry by returning unsold magazines early.

Zip TV, the first rival to Sky’s interactive TV advertising, launched through Channel 4.

FHM, the UK’s biggest-selling men’s magazine, underwent a major redesign as H Bauer reviewed women’s fortnightly magazine, Real , casting doubt over its future.

ITV considered a massive sell-off of its so called “non-core assets” predicted by analysts to be capable of raising nearly £550m.

The advertising industry won the right to self-regulate TV and radio commercials after legislation was passed in the House of Lords.

Transport for London revealed that London Underground’s 10-year, £1.2bn advertising concession was to come up for tender, bringing all of its outdoor contracts under the control of one sales house, creating an annual contract worth an estimated £200m a year.

Sky warned media agencies they risk being left behind in the wake of change in the television sector because of lack of knowledge.

Universal McCann raided Naked Communications to appoint strategist Dan Cresta as strategy director.


AUGUST

Lord Hollick revealed that Five and Channel 4 had been in talks for several months, prompting merger rumours.

John Wren, president and chief executive of the Omnicom Group, joined Sir Martin Sorrell in predicting that the three-year worldwide ad recession was finally coming to an end.

The Barclay brothers completed their purchase of the Telegraph Group, prompting speculation about potential changes at the company.

Johnny Vaughan was losing the radio breakfast battle with listener numbers dropping by 187,000 since he took the Capital helm from Chris Tarrant in April.

ITV Sales unveiled three women to represent the new face of the broadcaster with clients. Justin Sampson brought in MarieIsabel Jassies, previously account director at MindShare, Jane Carroll from MediaVest and Alex Plumb from McCann Erickson to shift away from ITV’s arrogant image.

The IPA signed up several heavyweights, including ITV, the BBC and News International, to support its IPA Touchpoints survey, designed to link existing measurement systems with the first integrated media planning tool.

MediaCom pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the industry by winning the £43m BSkyB account.

IPC celebrated as Nuts took a 90,000 lead over Emap’s Zoo, in the first ABCs to include the men’s weeklies, confirming what IPC had been claiming for months. Meanwhile, H Bauer entered the men’s weekly market with Cut, billed as the mass-market lads’ version of Dennis Publishing’s news digest, The Week .

The early verdicts were not at all favourable.

Naked held talks with former Aegis Media Europe joint chief executives, Bruno Kermoun and Eryck Rebbouh, to create a strategic communications arm for its new agency, KR Media.

There was a growing swell of demand among media agencies for magazines’ circulation figures to be available on a monthly basis.

A Media Week poll revealed 73% of respondents favour the idea.

The Barclay brothers made their first major move since acquisition of the Telegraph Group, appointing Murdoch MacLennan of Associated Newspapers as chief executive.


SEPTEMBER

A report commissioned by the IPA found that advertisers could be missing out on some of the brightest media brains of the future because agency salaries were reported to be lagging behind those in other fields.

Channel 4 considered an alliance with UBC Media to launch a national digital radio station in competition with Radio 4.

The Edinburgh TV festival took place. Delegates were told the industry needed to rethink the way that TV was traded while production companies must change the way they worked with advertisers and broadcasters to make advertiser-funded programming work.

Associated Newspapers appointed Kevin Beatty as its new managing director following the departure of Murdoch MacLennan to the Telegraph Group.

ITV begun its fightback with early figures suggesting it has turned around the dismal ratings, which have been plaguing the broadcaster since the merger of Carlton and Granada.

Viacom Outdoor doubled its national rail advertising business by snatching the £9m First Group contract from rival Maiden Group.

A new era beckoned at United Business Media after Lord Hollick announced his decision to step down as chief executive next May.

WPP announced it was to buy Grey Global, the last of the great advertising independents for £845m. The deal transformed the global agency line-up, reducing the number of worldwide networks from seven to six and giving Sir Martin Sorrell control of the largest media agency in the UK, MediaCom, which would, in turn, give WPP control of more than £1.4bn of business, Ed Meyer stayed on temporarily as the boss before taking a place on the WPP board.

GWR and Capital came clean and admited they were in talks about a merger, confirming suspicions and starting one of the sector’s biggest transformations.


OCTOBER

Rajar unveiled its “roadmap” for upgrading its audience measurement system, predicting that a new audiometer-based system should be introduced during 2007.

ITV ditched its celebrity idents as it rebranded ITV1 to coincide with the launch of its new “digital family”.

Luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton considered the future of its £31m UK and France media-planning and buying account, held by Carat.

NatMags launched a women’s weekly, Reveal , backed by a £16mmarketing budget – to compete with Emap’s Closer .

BSkyB offered to work with media agencies to find ways to stop technology destroying TV advertising.

H Bauer made a last-ditch attempt to save its struggling men’s weekly, Cut, by giving it a major facelift.

ITV Sales managing director, Graham Duff, revealed he was to take his teams and TV buyers out of their “trading ghetto” and aimed to move talks with agencies beyond hard-nosed negotiations.

GWR and Capital Radio agreed their £711m merger, prompting confirmation of redundancies among sales staff at both. Living TV announced the launch of a spinoff channel, Living 2, due to hit multichannel screens before Christmas.

A hat-trick of wins for Carat kicked off one of the biggest weeks for media agency business in recent memory.

It beat MindShare, PHD and MediaCom to retain the £31.5m British account for Diageo and won the £20m GE Consumer Finance Home Lending Business. It also secured the European Lego account, worth an estimated £35m, £8m in the UK.

Meanwhile, agencyland held its breath for the massive Unilever and Nestlé briefs.

ITV announced Mark Trinder, head of marketing communications at Woolworths would leave next January to become ITV’s head of advertiser relationships.

John Pearson, Virgin’s chief executive stepped down, denying the move was a prelude to a sale of the station.

Emap shook up the women’s magazine marketplace by announcing the launch of the first weekly fashion glossy in the UK. The new title, launching in the spring, will be called Grazia and is based on Italy’s well-established style and lifestyle magazine of the same name.

Clear Channel signed a £10m, seven-year deal with the UK’s largest owner of shopping centres, Prudential Property Investment Managers.

Rival media owners called on Ofcom to hit Capital and GWR with a version of ITV’s contract rights renewal mechanism to ensure the newly merged company could not abuse its position.


NOVEMBER

The waiting was over – MindShare won the biggest pitch in European history after landing the £555m pan-European Unilever account, beating rival incumbent Initiative and Carat. Following one of the most controversial and drawn-out account battles in years, the UK’s media agency league tables looked set to change as MindShare landed £205m worth of billings in the UK alone.

Meanwhile, rumours at Initiative suggested it could be forced to make job cuts after losing an estimated 40%of its UK billings.

Other big contracts up for grabs included the COI, the third-largest media spender in the country, which revealed that most of its media buying accounts were to go out for tender.

ITV signed a deal for its much-anticipated new digital channel, ITV3, to appear on the Sky platform. In return, ITV agreed to buy Sky Ventures’ 49.5% share in Granada Sky Broadcasting for £10m.

The Times turned its back on 216 years of life as a broadsheet and made the move to a compact-only format after almost a year of dual publication.

BlowUp Media tightened its grip on the UK’s giant poster market with the acquisition of Megaposter, the sector’s third-largest player.

The OMD group made the most trips to the stage at the Media Week awards, but the big prize of the night went to MediaCom, which was named full service media agency of the year.

Meanwhile, in an early attempt to set the magazine industry agenda for 2005, NatMags announced that it would publish monthly circulation data for its portfolio of magazines, which includes titles such as Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

And, in an early Christmas present to clients, the Newspaper Marketing Agency announced that its members were donating £10m of ad space in a bid to prove the effectiveness of the medium.


DECEMBER

Rival publishers closed ranks following the NatMags decision and vowed to maintain the status quo for six-monthly reporting.

Former AA marketing director, Clare Salmon, joined ITV as marketing director as it prepared to launch a multimillion-pound drive to market its digital line-up.

National newspapers announced the give away of £10mof advertising space, as part of a programme spearheaded by the National Marketing Agency. The programme was designed to highlight the benefits of the medium and attract advertisers from all sectors, particularly those who had not traditionally advertised.

It was announced Dave King, Emap Advertising MD, will join the Telegraph Newspapers board as executive director from 7 January.

Research group, Recma, crowned WPP as king of new business. WPP brought in a massive £1.8bn in new billings over the past 12 months. MindShare was top of the table for account acquisitions in 2004, winning an impressive £1.3bn of media business.

The BBC announced it is to axe about 2,900 jobs, as part of a review of the corporation ahead of the Government’s charter review process, ending weeks of speculation. The cuts are expected to save the BBC £320m a year and will come from redundancies.

H Bauer’s entry into the men’s weekly magazine market ended as Cut was closed after just four months on the news-stands.

Dennis chose BLM to handle the planning and buying for men’s magazine Maxim’s £1.5m advertising account for 2005.

London’s Evening Standard tested the market for a free version of the title with a dummy launch this week.

PHD CEO, David Pattison, was nominated to succeed Stephen Woodford as president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the first media planning and buying agency boss to be nominated for the post.

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