Firstly, a united front was presented when ITV and the Direct Marketing Association published the results of a survey which found (cynics would say unsurprisingly) that response rates increase exponentially when the two channels are married to form one lean mean integrated machine.
And then, Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier was named ITV boss. Putting aside whether Crozier’s appointment is a good one for the broadcaster (quickly, for the record, I don’t believe ITV needs a cost-cutting pragmatist but a creative and commercially-minded visionary that will grasp and act on the new digital reality facing media owners), what does his departure mean for the postal operator and in particular the direct marketing industry?
His detractors, namely the Communication Workers Union and its members, will point to the 60,000 job losses, the pay freezes and the changes to working practices that irked postal workers so much and led to last year’s strike action.
His celebrators would say that these difficult decisions transformed a firm that was losing £1m a day to one that is now registering the same amount on a daily basis
It is widely accepted that Crozier’s seven-year tenure has been positive for direct mail. As a former Saatchi and Saatchi executive, the ex-Football Association boss understands marketing and demonstrated this appreciation in reinvigorating Royal Mail as a media-owner and champion of the direct mail sector through initiatives such as Mail Media Centre, designed to be a “a new source of inspiration, intelligence and innovation for the direct mail industry”.
He will have built a team of like-minded individuals willing to fight the good fight but his departure comes at (yet another) crossroads for Royal Mail.
The festive truce between the CWU and the postal operator has now ended and the two will soon resurrect the talks over pay and modernisation that led to last year’s strike action. A bill sanctioning the sale of the Government’s stake in Royal Mail, shelved last summer, could also be resurrected if Labour is re-elected, while the Conservative Party has stated it will fully privatise the business if elected in May.
The Royal Mail has more to consider than a new chief executive, and so do direct marketers.