Want to make a programme? First decide who it's for

That's how the marketing mantra runs, and now the BBC has signed up to it. Should producers be concerned? The man responsible argues his case - and his vast budget - to David Benady

Tim Davie spent 12 years promoting snacks and fizzy drinks for PepsiCo before setting up shop in White City last year with the intention of bringing a little of the savvy of the commercial world to the BBC.

When he started work as director of marketing, communications and audiences (MC&A), his job seemed straightforward enough: to promote the programmes and services created by the corporation. But last month, events took a surprising turn when director-general Mark Thompson announced a reorganisation of the BBC that puts Davie's department at the heart of the corporation's activities. Under the new structure, MC&A will play a central role in actually developing programmes and the department has been designated a "creative division".

Davie says that the MC&A department will be involved from the start in creating programmes. It will advise on the best ways to reach the desired audiences and suggest which television channels or radio stations to use and help to develop multimedia strategies. In truth, this is the direction broadcast media will take in the years ahead - to identify audiences rather than create content.

He admits that this might be seen as a "marketing takeover" of the corporation's commissioning process. "There's always sensitivity among programme-makers that we are moving to a more robotic corporate model where everything comes down to a numeric analysis of audience value. That's the last thing we want to do."

He denies the Beeb will end up resembling marketing corporations such as Procter & Gamble or PepsiCo, but says that "historically, marketing in broadcasting could be perceived as just adding a bit of sizzle to a programme once it is made. Now everyone in the organisation needs a deeper understanding of marketing at the beginning of the process. We need to spend money where we give most value to audiences."

A keen runner with a degree in English from Cambridge, Davie says he experienced a degree of culture shock when he joined the publicly funded BBC from the US multinational corporation, where he held a variety of marketing and general management roles. Filling the executive board role left vacant by Andy Duncan, who went on to become chief executive of Channel 4, has its challenges. Davie controls a marketing, communications and audiences budget of £85m with a staff of 400. His department oversees production of some 150 minutes of programme related promotions on BBC1 and 2 each week.

On joining the corporation, Davie's first task was to scrap 120 jobs in his department. This is still being completed, although it will involve only a "handful" of compulsory redundancies. It has been achieved largely by cutting the number of divisions from 20 to about eight and merging posts.

While Andy Duncan was known for a rather mechanical method of apportioning marketing budgets to programmes, Davie has updated the approach. "We have become less formulaic in what priority a campaign gets in support," he says. "Take The Apprentice. We didn't go into big outdoor places; we used bus-stop posters and pop-ups on the web. Like all marketers, we are more bespoke in the way we build campaigns now. We have added a lot more variables and options."

He predicts that BBC marketing will fundamentally shift over time. The BBC is about to launch iPlayer, a piece of software allowing the public to download and watch the past week's programmes. "The industry is going through such radical change - digital and on-demand change the game - so focusing on a really deep understanding of our audiences is going to become more essential. Part of my role is to enthuse the organisation with an appetite to go out and understand all audiences."

The 39-year-old from Croydon has overseen one of the biggest audience research projects ever undertaken at the BBC, which is the basis for Thompson's "creative future" strategy, an "editorial blueprint for an on-demand world". The strategy involves rebranding BBC News, creating a new brand for teenagers, allowing greater personalisation for online services and ensuring "findability" of content through better search tools, branding and navigation. In short, marketing will play a pivotal role.

Overall, though, Davie sees his main job as ensuring different audience groups feel they are getting value for money from the £126.50 licence fee. This sum will rise by 2.3 per cent a year above retail price inflation - hitting £150.50 by 2013 according to the corporation - under controversial BBC proposals being considered by the Government. "If you look at the data we have got, most people think the BBC offers really good value. I am optimistic that the BBC will continue to offer great value for all audiences in the context of the proposals we have put forward."

Davie's current big tasks involve commissioning new idents for BBC1 to replace those troupes of dancers, preparing for the launch of iPlayer, and working as a director of Freeview and digital switchover company Digital UK.

He says that Andy Duncan has set a good precedent by going on to run Channel 4. Davie knows that if he can succeed in putting marketing at the heart of the BBC, he could be in line to run a television station himself one day.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot