Fairfax creates new commercial division

Fairfax Brand

Directors of the client development team, from left to right: Alex Glennon, Bryan Marshman, Michael Grenenger, Danielle Szetho and Omri Godijn.

Fairfax Media has launched a new commercial division dedicated to building its product offerings and creating stronger connections with key advertisers across the company’s core categories of retail, finance, automotive and travel, including opportunities in content marketing.

The division, to be called Brand Solutions and Client Development, will be headed by former group sales director of the Financial Review Group, Michael Grenenger, as director – brand solutions.

A team of brand and audience experts will report to Mr Grenenger while working closely with product, agency and direct sales teams, as well as editorial, to create unique opportunities around content and audience integration for advertisers.

The brand solutions team members are “our product evangelists”, Mr Grenenger said.

“People with a really deep understanding – say of the Financial Review or Good Weekend – who work with our editorial and agency sales teams to produce best of breed advertising solutions for our clients.

“We want these guys more on the front foot and in market because of their deep understanding of our clients and our product.”

It was important the brand solutions team have a good working relationship with editorial staff in terms of what’s coming up, new sections and events, he said, including opportunities with Fairfax’s content marketing division, headed by Simon Smith.

“[There will be opportunities] where we can create curated or bespoke content for commercial partners to run in their channels or in ours. We have a broad range of offerings, even syndication.”

Fairfax Media commercial director Tom Armstrong said a core part of strategy behind the appointment was to increase the company’s expertise in the business operations of advertisers and to offer marketing solutions.

“We have a fantastic portfolio of iconic brands with highly engaged audiences and this new team will strive to provide creative and innovative ways of connecting advertisers to them,” Mr Armstrong said.

“The client development team will drive analytical insights and thought leadership in their categories through the creation of ‘category hubs’ and ‘client knowledge centres’, enabling much stronger collaboration with agencies and advertisers. I’m really excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Mr Grenenger has more than 30 years’ experience in business development and media sales and said the publisher was “extremely proud” to be able to promote its assets from within its own sales team.

“We’ve drawn in great new talent from other parts of the industry.”

The work of the two teams also has the potential to branch out beyond newspaper assets.

While the brand solutions team looks after all Fairfax products, client development is “quite different”, Mr Grenenger explained. “They have a deeper understanding of who our clients are, in order to build a strategy for each client.”

This would take in each client’s competitive landscape and strategic roles for the year.

It’s not about cutting out agencies, he said, “but making sure we have a deeper understanding so that what we communicate with our agencies is what the client really wants to achieve.

The client development division was as much a resource for Fairfax’s agency community as for its top tier clients, he added.

“They ensure that everything we do resonates with the client’s mission.”

The new division kicks off operations from Wednesday, with all but two roles filled.

The client development team directors are former Fairfax national sales director of arts, entertainment, sport and drive, Omri Godijn, heading up travel; former Fairfax national sales director magazines, Alex Glennon, on retail; Bryan Marshman, from Bauer Media, on automotive; and former Fairfax head of data partnerships, Danielle Szetho on banking and finance.

Brand solutions has Nicki Singh, formerly of Bauer Media and News Corp Australia, as director of business and Andrew Schutt, who has been with Fairfax for 10 years, heading up Victoria, with two director roles for Life Media and entertainment/sport/drive currently being recruited.

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1 comment

  1. Newspapers as we know them have gone past their used by date. Consumers are now looking for something different from their newspapers and paying for what now reads more like a trashie social freebie than a serious news source is becoming less attractive.
    Fairfax seems to be trying to fix everything except the product itself. Fix the product and thy won’t need a “new commercial division”. If people embrace the product, the publication will have an “audience” which is what advertisers actually buy, with a credible audience advertising revenue will follow, if people don’t embrace the product, the audience progressively disappears and no sales force will be able to sell that.
    For an organisation as big as Fairfax, they don’t show much business savvy when it comes to identifying and delivering what customers want. If they did this right, their outcomes and image would be growing again rather than fading.
    In my view they now have to contend with two audience types – the serious news reader who’s interested in in-depth and credible reporting, then there’s the social news reader who only lives for the headlines, sensationalism and gossip, a la NT Times. One will happily pay for quality news reporting, the other won’t because Facebook and other free sources feed their appetites. They need two distinct products targeting two distinct audiences. At the moment, they seem to be offering a mish mash of both where neither audience is being served well. Trash and treasure is being served up to both audiences in the same way when trash should be aimed at one exclusively and treasure exclusively at the other. Discerning readers need to be able to distinguish between what’s trash and what’s treasure.
    Fairfax has to find a way to meet both needs while making a profit. This would mean deciding whether hard copy or digital platforms or a combination of both is the way forward.
    Changing environments or trends are nothing new, many businesses have had to re-invent themselves as people’s tastes change. Fairfax however, seems to think that slashing and burning, going offshore with various tasks and going crazy with digital platforms is a good strategy. It’s not.
    Make the products what people want and the rest will fall into place.

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