ITV's resurgence should give us all cause for optimism

The combined weight of the ITV sales team almost caused the stage to buckle as they piled up to prise their gong for TV Sales Team of the Year from Alex James at the Campaign Media Awards.

Their cause for celebration was understandable and it shows just how far the sales team has come despite (or maybe because of) the widespread scepticism of the restructure instigated by Fru Hazlitt less than two years ago.

The plate-sized desserts on offer at the dinner seemed an appropriate simile for the slices of humble pie that some of the other guests at the event should have been consuming (maybe me included).

While Hazlitt fluttered off into the night relatively early, it was heartening to see some celebration at a time when joy and fun are commodities that are precious and also sadly rare.

Compare this with Channel 4, which celebrates its 30th birthday this week in a surprisingly low-key way. I’m sure that it’s not because there is so little to celebrate, rather that the channel isn’t – and never has been – one for internal retrospection, preferring to look to the future. David Abraham and Jonathan Allan have faced similar criticisms to those levelled at Hazlitt and must be hoping that they too come out the other end so successfully.

Let’s hope so too, but there does seem some distance to go and maybe a glance to the past might not be a bad idea as it seeks to find a place and role. Perhaps they could learn from the writer and poet Sir John Denham, whose words were once drummed into every impressionable archaeology student. "We may our ends by our beginnings know," Denham wrote – an epigram that could equally apply to the industry as a whole, not just a channel that needs to rediscover its roots.

Given that this is my last column of the year, it seems appropriate to have at least a degree of levity and optimism, as well as a time to reflect on the past challenges – it’s what years of listening to Rabbi Lionel Blue taught me.

While the economy still seems to be clinging on in in­tensive care, resulting in more work for fewer people and less money for most people, there are still plenty of positives that should remind us why advertising is still a better job than doing overtime at Ford Dagenham. During black dog moments, remember that great advertising still manages to get to the heart of cultural life – the excitement that an epic (John Lewis) TV spot generates among the public should make us all feel proud. And a job in media, as the Media Awards chairman, Nick Emery, pointed out last week, can also provide one of the most rewarding careers possible. So there is plenty to keep our tails somewhere approaching up into 2013.


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