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Branding the BBC

Jane Lingham

15 January 2015

Advertising and Marketing graduate Jane Lingham is the BBC's Director of Brand. In this feature Jane reflects on her Lancaster experience, and how it set her up for her marketing career.

Jane Lingham (Advertising & Marketing, 1998, Pendle) is one of those rare people who knew at the age of 14 exactly how she wanted to start her career – go into advertising – and at Lancaster she found the perfect environment to make it happen.

Now as the BBC’s Director of Brand, Lingham marvels at the fact that she landed a job with a London agency straight after graduation, thanks in part to skills she had gained in a university final-year project working on an advertising strategy for a mobile phone company, including presenting a pitch.

'Everything we learned was so relevant,' she says. 'We were really encouraged to go out and get work experience and to take our knowledge out into the world.' In her case, she had already worked at Saatchi & Saatchi during a vacation.

It amuses her to think that in her current high-level BBC job dealing with strategic questions about the future of one of the most iconic of the UK brands, she still has occasion to refer to ideas on brand theory, as taught to her by David Acre at Lancaster.

She loved Lancaster from the beginning. She remembers arriving at the campus after a five-hour drive from Gravesend with her parents’ old caravan loaded up with her brand new washing basket and her Argos plates. The first person she met in Pendle became her best friend and they bonded over the fact that the boys had bagged the best cupboards in the kitchen.

Lancaster had leapt out at her when she was applying for universities, as one of the few offering advertising as a degree – she had been inspired to study it by the huge TV advertising campaigns of the 1990s. Her first visit to Lancaster for an open day convinced her she would be surrounded by like-minded people; she loved the city and found the campus instantly welcoming.

Academically she was excited and enjoyed the balance between the provision of factual background and structure and the courses designed to teach students to think for themselves. She admired the academic rigour demanded by Susan Auty and relished the fun of the courses taught by Jim Freund, for whom she returns to give lectures every year.

She worked hard and enjoyed doing so. Socially, she threw herself into college life, played for Pendle netball team and hung out at the Sugar House in Lancaster and The Carlton in Morecambe.

She landed her first job at BDDH advertising agency in London soon after graduation on the strength of the experience she had gained as part of the Lancaster course. Her skills gained her increasingly more senior roles at other agencies, but Lingham had always had a love for the BBC and in 2008 the right role came up as a content strategist with BBC drama and entertainment.

Since then she has progressed via jobs as Head of Audience Planning and Brand Measurement, to Head of Brand Strategy and to her current job as Director BBC Brand, which she started in January 2014.

Her days are made up looking at data and research on the BBC brand, collaborating with other divisions, sharing ideas and reviewing what is being done by others. With the BBC’s Royal Charter up for review in December 2016, she knows she can not afford to leave anything about the BBC brand to chance.

She says: 'Lancaster gave me the toolkit to get my first job and the confidence to do it. I feel incredibly lucky to have done the course - it really set me up for my career.'

(Photo: Cecilia Taylor - www.taylorcecilia.com)