Within about 5 minutes of arriving at the Telegraph Media Group offices last week, those unvarnished words – first uttered back in 2007 by TMG’s now editor-in-chief, Will Lewis – had been recounted to us, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. A bit of a surprise. This after all was the home of the Daily Telegraph, the UK’s biggest broadsheet, famously the ‘paper of the shires’ and historically the bastion of the Conservative party, right? Well yes and no. Invited in by Nancy Cruickshank, TMG’s recently appointed Executive Director of Digital Development, a group of us from BBH and BBH Labs were about to hear how the paper had undergone a complete operational and cultural transformation over the past few years: moving from a print production-led organisation to one intent upon embracing an integrated, multi-format, audience-focused future.
Before we go much further, it’s worth saying what this isn’t about: it’s not another essay on the accelerating declines in the newspaper industry’s circulation figures and ad revenues, as much as these may form the backdrop, even the driving need behind the changes at TMG. Instead, the starting point here is the premise that adland still needs media and media needs adland, no question. And, equally importantly, all of us need to find forward-looking ways to accelerate our own response to the change going on around us. Listening to what they had to say, the relevance for any commercial creative business hit home hard. Here then is an unapologetically positive attempt to capture the implications of what we heard: what can we learn from one media brand’s story?