Salmon leaps before she’s pushed

ITV’s top marketer Clare Salmon looks set to become the first senior
executive to leave the broadcaster in the wake of Michael Grade’s
appointment as executive chairman.

Salmon, director of marketing and commercial strategy, is said to have
been…

ITV’s top marketer Clare Salmon looks set to become the first senior executive to leave the broadcaster in the wake of Michael Grade’s appointment as executive chairman.

Salmon, director of marketing and commercial strategy, is said to have been “very unhappy” at ITV for some time. ITV has confirmed she will leave at the end of the month.

Few in the industry are surprised, saying that Salmon has been “sidelined” since arriving two years ago and is not “creative” enough to spearhead change at the beleaguered broadcaster. Some point to a divisive personality that makes her hard to work with, while others say that she is simply in the wrong job.

“Clare lacks imagination,” says one source. “She is not creative as a marketing director – everything adds up but she doesn’t have much ‘gut feel’.” Wrong skillset The source adds that the ITV role – “which should be all about image” – differs vastly from her experience at companies such as Centrica and AA, and does not suit her skillset.

Indeed, when former BBC chairman Grade was named as executive chairman of ITV, there were those who believed Salmon was in danger of being passed over in favour of marketing director David Pemsel (MW November 30).

Pemsel, a former managing partner of ad agency St Luke’s, was appointed marketing director in October last year, following the promotion of Salmon from the same role to marketing and commercial strategy director.

He reports to Salmon, who was shifted to oversee programme publicity and the viewer insight function, and worked with the sales team on advertiser strategy. She had previously spearheaded an overhaul of ITV’s on-air identity.

Salmon joined ITV in November 2004 from Centrica subsidiary The AA, where she was sales and marketing director. She previously held marketing director positions at Centrica’s home division and Avis Europe, and spent seven years as Prudential’s consumer marketing director.

Despite gaining plaudits and becoming one of marketing’s most-visible female executives, there are those who are heavily critical of Salmon. One senior media industry figure says: “There are very few people in this industry I don’t like, but Clare is right up there. I don’t like her and I don’t trust her, so I won’t be crying any tears regarding her leaving. Whenever I’ve had cause to involve myself with her, she has been thoroughly unpleasant and unable to play things straight.” However, marketing consultant Mike Sommers says the “real” Salmon is a flamboyant media figure with a penchant for charity endeavours and the colour pink. “She is a nice woman, a good laugh and a fun character to be with,” he adds.

Earlier this year Salmon rode horseback for 400 miles across Mongolia with her 11-year-old daughter in aid of Breast Cancer Care. She also has two wallabies and two tortoises among her pets, and famously once took a pair of pink shoes into a Porsche dealership to demand a car in a matching colour.

Odd choice “She does a lot of work within a team and gets on with it,” says Sommers, who worked with Salmon at Prudential. “I just think ITV was an odd choice for her, because it does not just need vision, it needs a vision to cut through a nasty, political environment. There are very few people able to do that and she’s simply not that brutal.”

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