Mongeau on CBC’s new sales structure (Q&A)

Jean Mongeau discusses a new way of doing business and Canada's public broadcaster

Newly appointed as general manager, chief revenue officer for CBC/Radio-Canada, Jean Mongeau is preparing to steer the Corp. through what is shaping up as the most turbulent period in its history.

Jean Mongeau

With an estimated $100 million in ad revenue set to depart with the impending loss of National Hockey League rights to Rogers Communications (although CBC Television will retain its Saturday night games for the next four years) and a stated intention to trim nearly 700 jobs over the next two years, the public broadcaster is clearly in a period of transition.

This is Mongeau’s second stint at the public broadcaster. He spent 15 years with the CBC before departing in 1995, spending the next 14 years in various roles with the National Bank of Canada, Metro Montreal and Astral Media before returning in 2009.

“This is a fantastic organization that in my opinion resonates so strongly with the population and business partners, that the challenge was an appealing one for me,” Mongeau told Marketing.

“I came back to a very different organization than the one I left in 1995; this company has developed a strong business sense and a very clear understanding of the place it occupies and should occupy in the plans of our partners. To that extent I was very happy to come back; this organization has a very strong sensitivity to the interests of advertisers and business partners.”

The CBC has announced a new national sales structure consolidating the revenue groups for its CBC Television and Radio-Canada groups to present a national multiplatform offer to advertisers. Is this something that was being pondered for some time, or was it hastened by recent events?
It has been in our plans for a couple of years now. We have been in discussions, both for market-response purposes, but also because we knew that within our organization, servicing our clients in a different fashion would make a lot more sense.

We’ve had continuous discussions on that front, and some specific initiatives that did not necessarily go public, but from our clients’ perspective really resonated as a clear intent to work closely together.

We merged our digital sales operations in Toronto almost three years ago, so in effect in the Toronto market the digital business was a fully integrated group, serving clients for both French and English. We introduced the exact same model in Montreal, where we integrated the sales organizations of both CBC and Radio-Canada.

When we rolled out our activities in line with the Sochi Games a year-and-half ago, we decided this was going to be done through a one-stop shop approach. One team was put together representing the interests of both media lines, and was rolled out very successfully.

All these initiatives are examples of the direction we are committed to going. It’s clear that the loss of hockey provided an opportunity to reposition our overall offering, because in the past hockey was such a big component of the CBC offering advertising-wise.

What will be the fundamental difference in this new approach?
When we roll out this structure within the next few months, clients will be serviced by [sales staff] selling an offering of all the products and platforms of CBC/Radio-Canada. Behind that will be a slew of specialists knowledgeable in their specific field of expertise – whether it’s digital French, digital English, TV, specialty and so on.

They will have the full support of a strong, competent team helping support the sales effort and the solution-development efforts of the front-line sales staff. They will be very much advertiser-aligned.

With some of your competitors touting the same thing, it seems like the one-stop sales model has become increasingly prevalent in broadcast. Can you provide some insight why?
The biggest hurdle to achieving this is to be able to offer solutions that are fully deployable throughout the organization. When you look at the depth of our Canadian content, and as you compare that to other broadcasters that have a huge number of American programs in which you cannot do product integration or branded content. We feel we have a very unique offering, and by combining a one-stop approach with a true national position we feel we will be able to respond very positively to advertiser and agency needs.

For more with CBC’s Jean Mongeau, check back soon for Part II.

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