UPDATED: Lark takes the CMO reins at Foxtel

Andy Lark speaks to CMO about his new role with the pay TV player following the departure of Mark Buckman, and how CMOs lead change

Andy Lark
Andy Lark

Sweating the new rebrand, putting the focus on technology innovation and highlighting the unique content proposition offered by Foxtel are among the top priorities for the pay TV player’s newly installed CMO, Andy Lark.

As first reported by The Australian, the high-profile marketing leader has joined Foxtel this week to oversee brand, content, customer management, acquisitions, digital and product management. The appointment comes as the pay TV operator looks to bring together its Foxtel and Fox Sports properties into a single sports and entertainment player.

Lark is a highly regarded marketing chief, and most recently held the post of head of global marketing strategy for SMB accounting vendor, Xero. Prior to this, he spent two years as the CMO of Commonwealth Bank, taking the reins from former CMO and also Foxtel’s most recent marketing and customer leader, Mark Buckman.

Buckman left Foxtel in late 2017 after an 18-month stint as its MD of marketing, sales and customer service.

Lark has more than 25 years’ experience across Australia, the US and Europe, working in marketing leadership roles at Dell, Sun Microsystems and Nortel. He’s also been the chairman of workflow management software company, Simple, for the past five years, as well as operating his own consulting business.

Foxtel chief executive, Peter Tonagh, said Lark’s experience as a leader and marketer, as well as passion for content, were key reasons behind his appointment. Lark officially joined Foxtel on 22 January.

Lark’s remit is not directly the same as Buckman’s. In a statement to CMO, Buckman confirmed that upon his departure, the sales, customer service and experience, business, retail, customer installations and supply chain elements of his position were integrated into a newly formed customer sales and service division, headed up by executive director, Marco Miranda. Strategy and research were also centralised under the CFO.

It is understood Lark retains product management, digital and marketing, which incorporates brand, content, sport, customer acquisition and retention and loyalty.

Lark said he was attracted to the role at Foxtel because the remit reflects what a “true CMO” role should entail – driving sales and business growth.

“Any good CMO role spans a number of functions and this one certainly does,” he told CMO. "Whether you’re influencing or directing, that did attract me to it. I sit at a business-level table and will help make broader business decisions on how we grow the business, which is really exciting.”

Lark said Foxtel’s high-quality and diverse content flow, as well as investments being made on the technology side, such as the Foxtel Now streaming devices, were also attractive propositions to get stuck into as a marketer.

“There’s just such enormous change, and having come from tech, I appreciate the challenges there are in bringing that technology to market,” he said. “It’s not a simple as another streaming box; the consumer wants so much more than that. It’s our ability to keep innovating like crazy on technology, pumping out innovations and bringing more smarts to market, and making Foxtel the place where it all comes together. This is from live sports and news to drama and the local programming… there’s only one brand that does that right now. We have to keep building awareness and a love for it.”

Lark joins Foxtel just months after the group’s new-look brand proposition launched to market. Lark said he’s grateful for the work Buckman and the team have done on that front.

“Now we’ve got to start sweating that good work, make it relevant and exciting for consumers. That’s the next stage,” he said. “It’s a great bunch of people here and a great team and I’m excited to be working on them around that.” 

For Lark, all CMO roles have a different flavour, depending on business need and the different phases of growth, change and realignment organisations inevitably go through. The first task at hand is to understand the wider business, and where it needs to get to. He also agreed CMO roles can often be too narrowly defined and brand-centred instead of focused on growth and business-level contribution.  

“The best CMO roles are true CMO roles: You have a mandate to drive business performance through marketing,” Lark continued. “That’s what I’d been looking for, and wanting. It’s not just brand, it’s about product, process, people technology, pricing and packaging – the true CMO role spans all of these. I think that’s actually one of the key drivers of CMO issues and underperformance. Where the CMO roles does astray is often where you find yourself only doing a narrow sliver of what should be the marketing mandate in the business.

“This role spans every aspect of the business, which is really exciting.”  

What is also obvious is that the broadcasting industry is going through substantial change and transformation, Lark said, and the “golden age of video”, as he put it, is certainly shaking up the competitive landscape.

“Our experiences [as consumers today] are heavily defined by video,” Lark said. “Twitter can do some of it, as same for Facebook. But finding that capability to acquire content at scale and make it work is hard.

“Foxtel has some of the very best content developers and acquirers here. I put our ability to do that against the very best of them. We are the brand Australians turn to for live and linear content and it’s a fabulous position to be in.  

“Consumers are also motivated by visceral needs – it needs to be super easy, affordable, accessible, available. The reality is you’ll flip to a place that does it best for you and I reckon we can do it better than just about anybody.”

Meanwhile, Buckman said that since resigning from Foxtel in September, he has focused on his consulting business incorporating board advisory, private clients, philanthropy, and investments, work he found both "refreshing and engaging".  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

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