Silly Season disrupted by media onslaught

I’ve just returned from
somewhere suitably laid back, hot and isolated, where I found myself, for the
first time in a long time, without phone or internet connection.

My media consumption has
been restricted to the rather heady cocktail of international editions of the Daily Mail and CNBC;
I may be fearful about the shrinking number of white mothers in the UK (why is
no-one doing anything about this!), and have a growing hatred towards the
“wasteful” BBC, but have a good grasp of the current financial
drivers, and find myself wondering, is NASDAQ’s bearish trend pattern set to

Meanwhile, back in Blighty,
it’s quickly become apparent that not everyone in the media business have made
their summer escapes.

That Richard Desmond has
big plans for Five (make that Channel 5) after his acquisition in July came as
no surprise, but the speed with which the 13-year-old broadcaster turned into a
bloodbath made Freddy Krueger look tame.

Days after we
announced Desmond was set to assume control of Five
, Brand Media’s Maisie
McCabe bagged an exclusive interview with him, in which she asked: ‘Does Five
need a chief executive and a managing director?’ (reporters are so cynical
nowadays aren’t they).

was unequivocal and absolute. With the conviction and timing that
only Premier League football managers can truly appreciate, he said: “Dawn
Airey is a talented and highly experienced TV exec with a great track record. I
have no doubt that under her leadership and with the right investment, Five
will go from strength to strength to succeed in the future.”

The rest, as they say, is history, and as Five’s managing director Mark White,
along with Airey and around 80 others, start
packing their cardboard boxes
, remaining commercial chief Kelly Williams
has been left plenty to do.

Turning to print,
where the perennial six-month summer magazine ABCs did provide rays of
optimism, the likes of which haven’t been seen for sometime.

Despite the continued fall-out in men’s lifestyle and TV listings, and a
1.5% fall in total actively purchased titles year on year, Conde Nast, NatMag
and the BBC all managed to outperform the market.

Several sectors even achieved impressive year-on-year gains, most
notably the women’s lifestyle/fashion sector, up 14.6%.

News and current affairs titles also posted strong ABC results, with increases
in the Science, Business & Finance and Domestic sub-sectors of 6.9%, 5.5%
and 2.6% respectively.

It was enough for PPA’s
new(ish) chief executive, Barry McIlheney
, to hail “an encouraging set of
results that reaffirms the popularity of magazines among consumers”.

Meanwhile, digital stalwart Yahoo, one of the few remaining pre-dotcom
survivors, has kick started a global
review of its media
planning and buying arrangements.

If any of the competing agencies could please tell me what Yahoo actually
stands for that would be much appreciated? Simply ‘not being Google’ and ‘not
being Microsoft’ somehow doesn’t seem enough.

I listened to a gaggle of media’s finest debate this very question in Cannes
earlier this summer. The internet company was one of the most visible sponsors
at this year’s Ad Festival, and provided everything from flipflops and
mouse-mats to posters, movie
and the total takeover of after hours hangout, the Gutter Bar.

One of our contingent had been offered a top job at the company, but confessed
to turning it down after being unable to come close to anything resembling a
USP. I’m not sure where its future lies, but it’s probably not in just being ‘that
other search engine’ or ‘that other mail provider’.

The autumn promises to be interesting. It’s good to be back.