Gruen star Russell Howcroft’s book should be a hit at Ten

Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russell Howcroft from The Gruen Transfer. Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russell Howcroft from The Gruen Transfer.
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Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russell Howcroft from The Gruen Transfer.

Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russell Howcroft from The Gruen Transfer.

Despite being on its fifth CEO in five years, it’s good to see the brains trust is remaining “on message” at Network Ten.

Russell Howcroft, the broadcaster’s executive general manager – and minor celebrity thanks to his days as a Gruen Transfer panellist – is about to publish his first book: When it’s Right to be Wrong – fight for ideas they’re worth it.

It isn’t actually an apologist tome for Lachlan Murdoch’s failed strategy to take Ten back to being a low-cost, youth-focused niche network.

Rather, it harks back to Howcroft’s previous work as an ad man.

“Whether he’s selling beer, health insurance or the army, former adman Russel believes in the power of the idea, and that creativity is needed to make good things happen. Whether it’s about business or everyday life, Russel knows sometimes you simply have to go against the tide,” says the book blurb.

At least Howcroft seems to have a proper day job, unlike his Gruen co-panellist Todd Sampson, whose CEO title at Leo Burnett does not seem to interfere with his extensive extracurricular activities.

This includes his own TV show, Redesign My Brain, and boardroom roles at CBD publisher Fairfax Media, and Qantas.

His long list of activities means he does not even have space on his Twitter page to include his role at Leo Burnett. Surely he is not worried about second-hand smoke issues from the ad agency’s close role with big tobacco?

It probably helps that the Twitterati are suitably distracted by the slow striptease, which has recently seen Sampson swap his trademark T-shirt for a bare torso – all in the name of publicity, of course.

How times have changed. Going back five years, CBD found a publicity still from The Gruen Transfer that shows Sampson was willing to don a long-sleeve, collared shirt on at least one occasion. Ex MasterChef 

Speaking of Ten. The former executive chairman who fell on his sword for Rupert Murdoch on Monday, Hamish McLennan, may have been displaying a sense of humour by lunching at Sydney pasta bowl Machiavelli on Wednesday.

He was suited up but no sign of a CV.

Ad man Harold Mitchell, who chairs Free TV, was at a separate table viewing the portraits he curated for the corporate diner.     Cabin fever  

Virgin Australia’s workaholic rev head, John Borghetti, will have to a burn a bit more of the midnight oil to catch his Qantas nemesis, Alan Joyce.

Virgin reported a $94 million net loss for the 2014-15 financial year, slightly behind the flying roo’s resurgent earnings for the same period that are expected to fall just shy of the $1 billion mark.

Virgin’s number crunchers would argue that Qantas has given itself quite a financial tailwind with the recent multibillion-dollar write-offs, but it is the bottom-line numbers that will have everyone’s attention.

The big question is whether Borghetti is focused on this race, or the supermarket aisles at Woolies?  Fair cop 

So, Greg Medcraft’s corporate cop shop has offered a bit more clarity on the user-pays model it is adopting, now that Treasurer Joe Hockey has stiffed ASIC on the funding front.

It will make the corporate wrongdoers foot the bill for its work. Pity it isn’t backdating its billing given the extensive work it has done on our big banks and their wealth-stripping operations.

It would be a great place to start given the restrictions ASIC is placing on its recovery efforts, which include judging the offender’s ability to pay.

As bank robber Willie Sutton reputedly told a reporter who asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is”.

Of course, ASIC has to actually win its actions before it can send the bill, which is easier said than done. Just ask ABC Learning’s Eddy Groves, and Fortescue’s Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest.   Wealth effect 

We can do the final numbers on NAB’s grand adventure in the American mid west with Great Western Bank.

The exit, engineered by new broom Andrew Thorburn, yielded $1.464 billion in sales proceeds for a bank now worth just under $2 billion in Aussie peso.

So that’s a big thanks from the new shareholders whose investment has performed much better than NAB’s shares in the same period.

NAB will also be wearing a $400 million loss on the valuation in its book valuation, just to rub salt into the wounds for Aussie investors.

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