In association with The Future of TV Advertising UK fortnight, we are publishing a series of seven Q&A sessions with leading television executives to get their insights into the Covid-19 crisis and its implications. In this interview, it is Mark Trinder, Director of Commercial Sales and Partnerships at ITV, giving his views.
Question: What has impressed you the most with how TV has reacted to the coronavirus crisis?
Mark: I think UK television has reacted brilliantly. Be that programming, news, editorial decisions, scheduling, balancing the loss of programmes with creating new and bringing back favourites, accommodating advertiser (business) challenges with great flexibility, incentives and creativity.
Let’s not forget that like every other business, broadcasters have costs, long-term commitments, employees, cash flow needs, stakeholders, etc. We too, are taking the pain of revenue decline, uncertainty, cost management, employee furlough and working remotely.
At ITV we’ve made communication with the industry, specifically our customers, the key priority. Daily communication via our teams into clients and agencies on existing activity, future activity and postponed activity has been vital. We’ve also added weekly communications from the ITV commercial leadership team with ‘all industry updates, insights, webinars’ (The Powerbank Series).
I also believe that the UK public would ‘hand on heart’ say that UK television is as reliable, entertaining, informative and creative as ever (without any stitching coming undone during such a challenging time?!!)
Question: Worldwide Chairman and CEO of MediaCom, Stephen Allan, said broadcast media are facing a “perfect storm”, referring to the fact that TV audiences have gone up but channels risk running out of shows. What is your take on that and what, specifically, are CNN doing to combat this perfect storm?
Mark: On one hand, Coronation Street and Emmerdale have had to cease production, but we produce a number of weeks ahead and have reduced weekly episode transmission to three each versus six (per programme) so we’re hopeful that we can cover this period. Live programming and planned audience participation programmes are on hold, and of course all sport is currently cancelled or postponed.
On the other hand – The ‘virtual Grand National’ had an audience of 4.3m and raised £2.6m for the NHS. Good Morning Britain, This Morning and our news is delivering live outputs daily.
We took the decision that our viewers should continue to ‘get what they expect and enjoy’ from ITV. Britain’s Got Talent has remained in its scheduled slot with the live finals being moved to the autumn. In drama, ITV’s Quiz opened with 9 million viewers, making it the biggest drama on TV this year. And, the boys are back on tour – Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh – is coming this May with the squad of ex-players from last year reconvening and ‘playing’ across Europe.
We are continuing plans, adjusting plans and creating ‘great memories’ as we are doing by playing out all of the EURO 96 tournament (31 games) across the ITV Hub, with six games showing on ITV4. And on creating, we’ve had to adapt to the ‘here and now’, so ITV has commissioned a series of four short dramas from Oscar nominated writer and producer Jeff Pope, inspired by true stories and reflecting life in lockdown across the country.“Isolation Stories” comprise of four 15-minute episodes.Each episode, written by award-winning screenwriters, and assembled in conditions that the production team has never faced before, will reflect what families are going through after weeks of lockdown, featuring moments that are funny, sad, heart-warming and poignant. Look out for these in the next few weeks.
I would also say that the UK public are in for a real treat of great programming this autumn across all genres (some pre-planned and some resulting from movements from this period). And, let’s not forget 2021 is looking like the ‘best year in memory’ for sports fans, TV-wise!
Question: A lot of advertisers have reacted in a positive manner to the crisis. What has been your favourite TV ad during this period and why?
Mark: McCain Here’s To Everyone #StayHome. Although an existing, long-running TV campaign, McCain quickly recorded a new VO (Ricky Tomlinson remotely) as soon as we hit the ‘lockdown period’. Topical, powerful and true to the values of the ongoing campaign. Brilliant!
Question: Many media analysts believe this pandemic will accelerate huge changes in consumer behaviour. With that in mind, what is the future of TV advertising?
Mark: I see a strong future for TV and TV advertising. This challenging period has seen the public, our viewers, turn to TV as both a trusted source of information and advice and a provider of comfort and entertainment. Advertisers are seeing this through audience performance and ‘come together’ moments e.g. Clap for Carers (NHS and key workers). Many advertisers are working with us to create topical and contextual campaigns at breakneck speed.
I do feel that this period will make advertisers (brands) think differently about their messaging and overall campaigns moving forward. Of course, promotional and offer led activity will return, that’s natural, but I think more consideration will go into brand, values, their role in communities, tone of voice and hopefully great and engaging creative.
Complementing mass simultaneous reach, Planet V (ITV’s addressable advertising platform) is successfully passing its technical milestones, and we’re now a few months into our concierge phase. The ITV Hub, with over 30m registered users, offers advertisers a premium, brand safe, fully viewed environment. We are on track for the next phase of rollout in the summer.
And, we’ve now announced Rhys McLachlan as our Director of Advanced Advertising, who joins from his position as Head of Global TV Strategy at Amobee. Throughout 2020 ITV will continuously evolve the capabilities of Planet V, ensuring we continue to enhance how advertisers and agencies buy data-targeted VOD.
The Future of TV Advertising UK – streamed conference on Thursday, April 30
If you are interested in the future of TV advertising, check out the one-day, streamed thought-leadership conference – The Future of TV Advertising UK – on Thursday April 30. This provides a full-day of streamed content to your desk. You can see the agenda here, and register to listen (free) here.
See what these execs are saying on coronavirus, how TV has responded, and the advertising implications…
Link to these Q&As…