MARKETING MIX: PROFILE; Stirring Times: Toby Constantine * Marketing Dir * Times Newspapers

As marketing director of ‘The Thunderer’ Toby Constantine’s ultimate goal is to see The Times overtaking The Daily Telegraph. ‘Our sights are on The Times becoming number one,’ he says. ‘That’s a real possibility. That will become a reality.’

As marketing director of ‘The Thunderer’ Toby Constantine’s ultimate

goal is to see The Times overtaking The Daily Telegraph. ‘Our sights are

on The Times becoming number one,’ he says. ‘That’s a real possibility.

That will become a reality.’



To this end, he is often found deep in the bowels of the News

International building in Wapping devising a marketing strategy to

dominate the broadsheet market. ‘The Times has a proper marketing

department. It is no longer a place which just does competitions,’ he

says. And he’s right. It employs all manner of marketing devices in

order to get the paper into as many hands as possible. Price cuts,

sampling, promotions - you name it, he’s done it.



His latest strategy is a slew of promotions - a free bottle of wine from

Sainsbury’s or a free ticket on Eurostar - designed to appeal to an

upmarket audience. They have made an immediate impact on sales.



In the six months to September, sales of The Times grew 6% to 810,493

(ABC). That’s 265,831 off the market leader, the Telegraph. In 1993

(January-June ABC), the gap was 658,922.



Constantine’s marketing machine seems to have woken The Times from its

slumber. ‘When I took over, to be fair, it was sleepy. Broadsheets were

much more polite in the way they went about marketing themselves. ’



Although he now fits comfortably into the broadsheet environment, his

background in newspapers was on the tabloids, and every now and then the

pin-stripe facade slips to reveal a bit of a joker. ‘Working on The

Times and The Sunday Times is humbling, daunting and extremely

gratifying, and long may it continue to reign. La-di fucking da.’



Tony Watson, managing director of Lowe Direct, who worked with

Constantine at Option One, says he likes wind-ups. And Chris Maybury,

Times Newspapers’ general manager, says: ‘You do wonder sometimes what’s

for real, what’s a hoax and what will happen to you when you walk into

the office.’



But for all his joking, Constantine admits he doesn’t suffer fools

gladly. ‘A lot of bluster goes into keeping the wheels on the wagon. The

meek and mild don’t last very long.’



Asked if he misses the tabloids, Constantine becomes almost wistful. ‘I

miss an awful lot about The Sun and The News of The World. The Sun is

the most invigorating place to work. They are so focused and charged up.

They are very buzzy and dynamic. The Times is a less humourous place to

work, but it’s not without humour.’



Constantine is described by a former colleague as ‘terribly posh’,

citing the publishing of his wedding pictures in glossy society

magazines as an example. His wife, Saffron, is a model who jets around

the world on fashion shoots. He also has a young stepson and values his

home life. ‘The time spent at home is the most important time.’



Since leaving Edinburgh University, Constantine knew that marketing was

his bent. ‘Being a persuader was always something which attracted me.’

He persuaded David Gray, director of advertising at AT&T, who then ran

the advertising agency Allen Brady & Marsh, to take him on although he

had no experience. Gray says: ‘I thought he had the makings of a good

agency man, but wouldn’t stay within the confines of being an account

manager.’



His advertising experience helps him deal with agencies. But he still

bristles that some of them accused him last year of having no respect

for the ‘advertising process’, after a six-month pitch for The Times’s

pounds 7m account resulted in Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe pipping at

least six other agencies.



‘I understand more clearly than most the advertising process and the

rigours of it. To a certain extent, we are dependent on it, so I’m

hardly likely to be disrespectful. I often wish that there could be less

bullshit and more action’, he says.



When asked where he will be in ten years, Constantine predicts he will

be ‘in the retirement home for run-down marketing directors with Ellis

Watson (marketing director, The Sun and The News of the World), Andy

Kitching (marketing director, Mirror Group Newspapers) and Paul

Woolfenden (the Telegraph’s promotions director).



‘Ellis and I are going to start one called Sea View in Clacton. We will

be in wheelchairs with blankets over our knees with bottles of whisky

under them.’



BIOGRAPHY



1989-1991 Account manager Allen Brady & Marsh

1991-1992 Account manager Option One

1992-1995 Marketing manager News Group Newspapers

1995 Marketing manager Times Newspapers

1996 Marketing director Times Newspapers



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