First Choice appoints marketing director

Travel company First Choice has revived the post of group marketing director, appointing Diageo e-capabilities director Phil Barden to the job.

The position was axed in November 2002 and incumbent Mike Ryan left without a job to go to (MW November 28, 2002). However, First Choice now believes it needs a marketer at board level to help steer strategy and meet the challenges of the internet.

Barden will be on First Choice’s group executive committee and will have a place on the company’s UK and Ireland board. He is a former Unilever head of the Consumer Needs Consortium, which later became the Jigsaw Consortium.

UK marketing director Sam Turnbull, who oversaw the sponsorship of hit television show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here, will report to Barden.

Barden will report to group chief executive Peter Long and UK and Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland.

The company’s lead advertising agency is Walsh Trott Chick Smith. Media is handled by Walker Media.

First Choice recently axed its specialist city breaks brand, Sovereign Cities, and says margins have been under pressure in the sector owing to fierce competition from low-cost airlines.

The company plans to develop its long-haul brands and has acquired two operators in the “soft adventure” sector for &£6.2m.

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