John Campbell is leaving the building after tonight's show. And MediaWorks will be doubling up on farewell sausage rolls because it's also the last day for head of marketing and publicity Amanda Wilson, who has been with the company for around 12 years.
Much has been written about the recent changes at MediaWorks and the loss of institutional knowledge under chief executive Mark Weldon and the board, with TV chief executive Paul Maher, head of interactive Siobhan McKenna, senior legal counsel/company secretary Clare Bradley, chief financial officer and director of technology Peter Crossan and head of comms Rachel Lorimer among the departures. But when asked why she was leaving, Wilson said it wasn't because of those changes. It was because it was time for her to move on to something else.
"It's easy to stay at a place like MediaWorks for so long as no day is like the other. But as a marketer (and a human being) it’s important to have new experiences and after ten plus years it’s definitely time for that to happen. I told my brand manager when she went on maternity leave 12 months ago, if I’m still here when you return please physically remove me from the building. She’s due back next week."
Wilson arrived at MediaWorks to launch C4 back in 2003 along with Andrew Szusterman, who is still at MediaWorks looking after entertainment content.
"C4 was a lot of fun for our young team. We had a really passionate fan base who used to mob us for hats, t-shirts and anything with a C4 logo on it. At the time I took over the marketing for TV3 our priority products were largely international (bar Outrageous Fortune and Bro Town), with all marketing assets supplied by international distributors. We really just put a time and date on it."
She says the network, which has long been seen as a plucky battler that made do with less resource than its publicly-funded or subscriber-funded competition, has become more focused on brand-funded and local event television, so its team has ended up building massive local projects from the ground up. It did work closely with agencies in the past, including Special for the launch of Four, but now all marketing assets such as stills photography, advertising concepts, key art and social media plans are created internally and led by Ant Farac.
She says her highlights have been the first Next Top Model campaign (the live final was integrated into the World show at NZ Fashion Week) and the launch of The Block NZ. The broadcasting landscape has changed markedly in her time, as evidenced by the associated real-life events, such as The Block open homes or X Factor Live. And this is something MediaWorks has embraced after announcing a partnership with Nine Live Events.
New season launch events have played a big role in her time at MediaWorks and she says it's a bit of love hate relationship. But she says last year's was a particular highlight "as it created such talk in the industry, it was big and signalled the start of our Blockbuster strategy".
The Bachelor was a success, X Factor not so much, and The Paul Henry show is struggling to make an impact on TV (radio impact will be known later this year), so it will be relying on big reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and MasterChef to deliver on that strategy.
She says the current tagline of ‘For Me It’s 3’ is something she sat on for a couple of years so she's glad to have been able to see that come to light. And she is proud of the comedic talent that has surfaced with the help of MediaWorks.
"We found Guy Williams through a Dai’s Protégé competition we ran at C4 and we found Dai Henwood in a pub when we went there for a staff night out. It’s crazy where these guys are now and it’s been amazing to see their careers and personal brands build."
Plenty of news purists have been laying in to MediaWorks for its decision to review Campbell Live—and on its wider strategy based around entertainment and reality shows—but Wilson says news has always been a challenge for the network (and with Fairfax announcing some major changes to its newsroom yesterday and news businesses around the world being slapped around by the internet, it's certainly not alone).
"I read through some 3 News marketing plans for 20 odd years ago recently and we faced some of the same challenges back then as we do today in regard to TVNZ. But of course today the competitive landscape is far more complicated. It will be interesting to see how it’s navigated from here."
Wilson doesn't know what she'll be doing just yet, and no decision has yet been made on a replacement. But as the company follows through on implementing its group strategy in an effort to better commercialse its "unparalleled audience reach of 3.7 million, or 96 percent of Kiwis aged 10+", the logical step is for the marketing and publicity teams that currently work separately in TV (approximately 15 across marketing and publicity) and radio to follow suit, join forces and create 'efficiencies'.
And in other MediaWorks news, the company has increased its representation in the Australian market, which it says is a big growth area.
The changes, led by MediaWorks commercial director Paul Hancox, see the appointment of GayleneRiminton to client service director, Australia. She joins existing Australia group manager Emma Thomas, who has over 20 years sales experience working in international markets, the last 12 of which were in the New Zealand media across TV and radio.
Riminton has worked in the New Zealand media industry for 15 years, across both agency and direct businesses. She began her industry career with Austero in Sydney. And in New Zealand, she has worked a multitude of key agency and direct client business for NZME.
"Together, Emma and Gaylene will provide expert sales support and a rich client service experience, underpinned with the ability to support client needs ‘on the ground," says Hancox. "The addition of Gaylene to the company, will allow the duo to focus on super-servicing existing clients, providing dedicated business solutions and local expertise for Australian clients wanting to reach New Zealand audiences. Collectively, the two will work to consolidate and drive results for the ever-increasing Trans-Tasman business market.”
Since it moved from having an independent company—Ignite—to handle its Australian sales two years ago, MediaWorks says Thomas has more than doubled the revenue out of Australia, hence the decision to add capability in Sydney.
MediaWorks recently took some space from Seven to house its Australian reporter, but it's still working through where its sales team will be housed.