Thinkbox chief executive pledges to ‘tell it like it is’

Tess Alps, the newly appointed chief executive of television marketing body Thinkbox, has pledged to “tell things as they are”, even if it hurts the TV industry.

Tess Alps, the newly appointed chief executive of television marketing body Thinkbox, has pledged to “tell things as they are”, even if it hurts the TV industry.

“We have to establish a relationship with advertisers so they know Thinkbox is there to represent TV, even if we are giving advice that is not in the immediate interest of the medium,” she says in an exclusive interview with Marketing Week. “We must prove that Thinkbox knows more than anyone and has everyone’s interests at heart.”

For Thinkbox to be trusted as a television expert, it must be open and transparent, even if it means publishing negative information, she adds.

PHD chairman Alps was the Thinkbox board’s unanimous choice to become its first chief executive. She says she had to be talked into applying but soon decided it was the “perfect” role for her.

She takes up the post in July, and says she will bring in “serious marketing talent” to drive things forward. Thinkbox currently works with Ingrams (formerly the Ingram Partnership), and Alps has not ruled out keeping an external agency on board.

Alps wants to focus on research and information, planning and training, and hopes to bring in high-level planners. She also says it is imperative the industry separates television from television advertising. She says that although TV is in rude health, with more people watching more channels on more platforms than ever before, TV advertising faces big challenges.

“TV itself has a stronger appeal than ever before – it has no threats at all. Clearly TV advertising has some issues, but we have time to get our heads around it. PVR has a much slower burn for development than we all thought it might have,” says Alps.

“I want to see brands saying they can still be part of this medium, otherwise consumers will pay directly for it, and I don’t think brands or consumers want that to happen. There is a real responsibility for media agencies and advertisers: the lure of free media is still extremely strong,” she adds.

Alps, who started her career at Yorkshire Television and became an ITV sales director before spending 14 years at PHD, believes her agency experience gives her the perfect background to sell TV as a medium.

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