Friday 6 December 2019

AdLib: DG or not DG, that is the TV question

Formber TV3 boss David McRedmond.
Formber TV3 boss David McRedmond.
Safefood's TV ad targeting the over 65s
Agency group CEO Deirdre Waldon

Michael Cullen

As speculation mounts as to Noel Curran's successor as RTÉ director-general when he exits Montrose in May after five years, whoever gets the job will face a fast-evolving TV market. In recent weeks, Liberty Global's Virgin Media paid €87m for TV3, while Eir bought Setanta Sports for around €20m in a deal described as a "game-changer".

When the 'for sale' sign went up early last year, TV3's then owner Doughty Hanson couldn't have expected 2015 to be so rewarding, given that the year began by fears it might be put out of business. But TV fortunes can flip overnight and it's now UTV's turn to sweat out the winter. Its strategy in assuming viewers and advertisers in the Republic would switch to UTV Ireland to watch 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale' failed utterly.

UTV Ireland largely ignored rolling out popular home-produced shows and where efforts were made - as with Pat Kenny's 'In the Round' and Ger Gilroy's 'Friday Night Sport' - they have since been axed. The station faces losses of €18m and channel director Mary Curtis has just quit - amid speculation she hopes to return to RTE as DG.

Contrast that with TV3's fortunes. John Malone's Liberty Global has deep pockets. After notching up record audiences for the Rugby World Cup - showing all 48 matches - TV3 then out-smarted RTÉ for the rights to the RBS 6 Nations for four years from 2018. Its new soap, 'Red Rock', set in a north Dublin Garda station, has done well.

Javelin media director Ruth Payne says 'Red Rock' viewers tend to be older, more urban and a little more up-market than Corrie's. Just 15pc of the 'Red Rock' audience is aged 15-34, while both soaps have a similar share of 35-54s. Average viewing for the first series of 'Red Rock' was close to 190,000.

TV3 and producers Element Pictures and Angel Station secured a €1m rights deal with Amazon Prime. One criticism of 'Red Rock' is that the two midweek episodes are too short - a victim of TV3's greater hourly ad minutage. Many viewers watch the two weekly shows together, fast forwarding the ads. TV3 is considering extending the episodes by a minute.

Curran will be a hard act to follow, having turned around RTÉ's finances. When he first got the DG job in October 2010, a deficit of €6m was forecast for 2011. But when he turned up for work in February, the forecast for the year was minus €30m. RTÉ executives said to be in the running to succeed Curran include head of TV Glen Killane and group commercial director Willie O'Reilly. Former BBC News controller Kevin Bakhurst, who joined RTÉ in 2012 as head of news and current affairs and later became deputy DG, is the bookies' favourite. The main outside challenger is former TV3 boss David McRedmond, main picture. His commercial feats in Ballymount and his grasp of the private equity market outweigh the headaches he caused RTÉ management with loud calls to level the broadcasting playing field.

While news of RTÉ's new head honcho will not be known for weeks, Ryanair still appears to be hell-bent on changing its image of being a thorn in consumers' sides. After hiring Cristian Samoilovich as its first head of public affairs, Michael O'Leary's low fare airline has been out shopping for a new marketing communications director.

Reporting to chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs will be Matthias Wenk, who spent 11 years with German discounter Lidl Ireland, as an associate director and head of advertising. He was previously Alltech's European regional marketing manager.

With meats and fish being cooked and then later reheated, Safefood has rolled out new TV, radio and print ads targeting the over-65s with warnings about the risks posed by the 4Cs - cook, clean, chill and cross-contamination. Created by McCannBlue, the campaign, pictured, shows how lapses of concentration can be costly. Over 65s' immune systems aren't as hardy as they used to be. Germs they were able to cope with when they were younger can now make them ill.

McCannBlue's strategic director Susan Kelly says over-65s assume they can take shortcuts when handling food - even though they know it's wrong. Kelly says that's the insight the agency drew upon. Pictured is a scene from Safefood's TV ad.

Agency group CEO Deirdre Waldon

Cawley Nea\TBWA has launched TBWA's Digital Arts Network (DAN) in Dublin. With its Disruption Live and data insights platform, DAN promotes brands' ability to be more relevant and tell their story to consumers. Agency clients include Bank of Ireland, Electric Ireland, McDonald's and the NDC. DAN is headed up by Johan Sand. Sinead Dennis oversees client relationships and integration. The agency's group CEO, Deirdre Waldron, pictured above, leads new business development.

Michael Cullen is editor of

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