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The ad men have taken over at C4 and ITV

You might have noticed that Channel 4 and ITV both have a new chief executive. You might also have noticed that they both have their deepest roots in the advertising industry. Don’t panic.

Over at C4, David Abraham arrives with a good broadcasting pedigree between him and his days in adland. Still, there’s no doubt that his time at the commercial end of the media equation also gives the shrewd Mr Abraham some refreshing qualifications for the enormous task that lies before him. David, you see, made his ad name at the brilliantly energetic, weirdly dysfunctional but absorbingly different agency St Luke’s back in the late 90s.

This is worth knowing because Abraham was one of the chief architects of the agency, one of the reasons that – for a brief moment – it was amongst the most exciting in London. He made St Luke’s, St Luke’s helped make him and you can take from this that Abraham knows how to break the rules, nurture brilliant creativity and managed to bail out before the whole St Luke’s house of cards crashed.

Meanwhile over at ITV Adam Crozier may not get quite the rapturous reception his predecessor Michael Grade received on his first day, but the ad industry at least feels like they’ve got one of their own in the big chair. Though Crozier is better known in the press for his work with footballers and postmen, as far as the ad industry’s concerned he’s the former media buyer who rose to run Saatchi & Saatchi, despite a rather sticky start to his advertising career.

You see, adlanders still remember Crozier as the man who was caught out fiddling his sales stats the last time he worked for a media owner, in his days selling space on the Telegraph. No matter, Crozier has gone on to become a shining example of admen who make good in the real world.

So is it simply co-incidence that the country’s two biggest commercial broadcasters are now led by men with advertising in their blood? Of course not. Both Crozier and Abraham will play well with the advertising and marketing communities at a time when their channels need enthusiastic commercial partners more desperately than ever. Yes, they both bring wider skills, but their advertising nous is undoubtedly a trump card and buys them the ear of the commercial community…for a time at least.

Claire Beale is editor of Campaign

Posted 09 March 2010 by Claire Beale
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