John Ayling’s daughter Caroline writes to a schoolfriend.

SBHD: John Ayling’s daughter Caroline writes to a schoolfriend.

Dear Liz,

Daddy returned from TV95 concluding that our leisure habits and technology changes before we become adults were big issues. It was revealed that 85 per cent of grown-ups can only work the VCR for simultaneous recording and many business managers can’t switch on a computer.

Adrian Holmes’ demand for less violent “yobbish” commercials should be extended to programmes sometimes.

Many of daddy’s client colleagues felt that media inflation was insufficiently addressed as revenue improves and audiences decline.

They heard how ITV has improved its drama output. Channel 4 successfully provides sales competition and satellite now reaches 30 per cent of us. But an extra 30 seconds per hour on ITV/Channel 4 would contribute as much now as Channel 5 will in the late Nineties.

Despite ITV’s undoubted success, total viewing will continue to decline, with people working and travelling longer hours allied to other leisure interests. Many clients thought ITV a bit complacent. The BBC is bound to fight back soon.

Daddy’s conference highlights included:

* Calls for a Government plan for broadcasting and a radical restructure of TV (Rob Morgan of Kelloggs’ reference to BBC ads was strangely never ad-dressed again). A simultaneous review of ITV and BBC would be sensible. Advertisers all want additional competition

* An entertaining (albeit excessively long) review of US cable by John Mandel – but US audience habits and “commodity” buying attitudes are always different to the UK – why treat them as a benchmark?

* Passionate papers from major clients – John Dale of Pedigree Petfoods argued for internationalism reminding delegates that only one of the top ten European media companies is British. “You’re too nationally defensive – stop fighting amongst yourselves – screw the foreigners” (he demanded in a Monte Carlo where the first ú20 G&T was spotted!) David Hearn of KP was looking for investment in comedy and sports programme by ITV, youth audiences and loyalty building schemes (an excellent idea used “overseas”)

* Calls for a review of the investment in trading currency (BARB) research relative to industry commitment to other qualitative data

* An “open” debate on the value of auditors and their perceived obsession with price

* An entertaining interactive session from Jonathan Durden/Tess Alps probing delegates’ knowledge on sponsorship/ direct marketing opportunities. Didn’t the clients do well!

* Glimpses into the (not too distant) future from Martin Bowley, Mike Wood and Nick Brien

* Joyce Taylor surprising a number of advertisers with the level of UAP’s cable investment and confidence in the future

* Plea for more lateral thinking and less “media by spreadsheet”

However, Daddy did say the delegates required more audience participation, less “selling” from some speakers and debate on issues. Andy Barnes raised sales policy points and the advertisers some marketing issues that warrant a forum, for instance. Speakers should also stick to their time brief. Perhaps some of the Eighties TV “salesmen” had more overt passion and energy. Some also felt the new range of niche audience opportunities cannot be ex-ploited unless economic creative executions can be delivered.

Obviously Daddy’s friends realise TV is being challenged by computers but won’t these be in our bedrooms rather than the family TV room? Some of his friends are trapped in Mike Wood’s technofear timewarp anyway…See you at the bowling alley.

Love Caroline

PS Why was Tony Vickers’ plane hit by lightning?

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