Better deal for advertisers
ONE recommendation coming out of the McKinseys report was to reorganise TV and radio sales and appoint a new marketing and sales chief executive. Trevor Ormerod, former deputy managing director of Times Newspapers Limited, was brought in as SABC chief executive for sales and marketing to spearhead a new drive for advertising revenue.
TV advertising, sales and sponsorships, under the Action Stations umbrella, and radio sales, under Radio Active, both fall under Ormerod. "The SABC will always rely to some degree on government funding because of its public broadcast mandate, but there is a limit to the extent to which we can rely on government financial support," says Ormerod.
"So the SABC decided to seize the initiative by overhauling its programming to deliver outstanding quality viewing and listening which would appeal to advertisers. This is part of a strategy aimed at making the SABC commercially viable. We have three TV channels and 16 radio stations with unparalleled reach and Govin Reddy has been appointed deputy chief executive officer to look at overall programming. Altogether, this is a hard package to beat."
Before its transformation advertisers complained that they often found it difficult to buy advertising time because calls went unanswered and, as a monopoly public broadcaster, they had few alternative options. A civil service mentality pervaded the corporation, says Ormerod. Sales people would drop off rate cards at the agencies and take orders, sometimes reluctantly.
"My job is to make the SABC more user friendly and responsive to the needs of advertisers, to get rid of the red tape and to assist in the generation of creative broadcast material which will appeal to advertisers," says Ormerod.
Workshops involving the SABC and advertising agencies have been held to determine the type of programming advertisers want to see and to assist agencies maximise their adspend. Previously, programming was determined on a take it or leave it basis.
Radio sales teams have been restructured around clusters of stations. Radio Good Hope and Lotus have been grouped together for sales purposes because of their similar audience profiles at the upper end of the income scale. Similarly, Radio Sonder Grense and SAFM have been grouped together, as have the African language stations, while Radio 5 and Metro have been left as stand-alone stations. Each of these groupings has its own sales team and sales manager. An internal sales manager has been appointed to take orders and provide advertisers with information, helping overcome the old complaint that no one was around to answer calls. On the TV side, each sales representative markets all three channels. Action Stations is headed by Humphrey Mokhesi and Radio Active by Ken Modise.
A trade marketing manager has been appointed to market special packages to advertisers. Sports sponsorships under Edward Griffiths, head of Top Sport, has shown a marked improvement over the last year, while non-sports sponsorships - also much improved - are handled by a sponsorship manager.