Guardian lures ONdigital chief

Guardian Newspapers poaches ONdigital supremo to oversee £20m combined marketing budget

Guardian Newspapers has poached ONdigital director of brand marketing Marc Sands to be its marketing director.

Sands, who was responsible for the name ONdigital, is to oversee marketing for The Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited brands, which have a combined marketing budget of £15m to £20m.

A lifelong reader of both newspaper titles, he has started to gauge opinion about creative work for The Guardian. Sands claims it is too early to say whether the creative account for the papers will be reviewed. “Of course, I am canvassing opinion and asking people in the relevant positions,” he says.

“As a product, it has a good clear vision, but I don’t think that has been translated particularly strongly into marketing for some time,” Sands says.

One industry source says the democratic management culture at Guardian Newspapers may have led to approval of ads by committee, resulting in campaigns with less edge.

The Guardian account, handled by Partners BDDH, is worth more than £3m. Ogilvy & Mather works on the £2m Observer account, while media is handled by New PHD.

A creative agency is being sought for Guardian Unlimited.

Sands will also be responsible for creating a strategic framework to stretch the brands into other platforms, such as Internet-enabled wireless application protocol (WAP) mobile phones and digital TV through the Net.

Although Sands has never worked in newspapers, he claims to react quickly to moves by rivals, given his tactical marketing experience from being part of the team that launched ONdigital against BSkyB.

“The old days of marketing, when it took six to nine months to develop a great idea, are, in my experience, rare. I can’t imagine that we will have that luxury again.”

Prior to joining Granada UK Broadcasting as marketing director in 1997 – and being transferred internally to British Digital Broadcasting, which became ONdigital – Sands worked at HHCL & Partners as an account director.

He has also worked for DMB&B and Still Price Lintas.

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