Outdoor Life Network
By Sharon Donovan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/20/2004 8:00:00 PM
Vice president, marketing
Ideally, the best person to run Outdoor Life Network would be someone whose lifestyle is in sync with the network's mission. But the fact that Gavin Harvey is a sports nut—an avid cyclist, scuba diver, skier, adventure traveler, and motorcyclist—was not the only criterion considered by Comcast's Brian Roberts and Steve Burke when they were hunting for a commandant for OLN.
Harvey had the cable experience Comcast needed. Most recently, at E! Networks, he honchoed brand development and advertising and creative services while spearheading rebranding initiatives for both E! Entertainment Television and The Style Network. His imprint was also seen on FX, the Disney Channel, and Accor Asia Pacific.
No matter the slot, however, Harvey brings with him a fundamental philosophy: The job "requires a commitment to the fact that a brand can be a tool to inform a company."
He doesn't do it alone, he says. "It takes others, too. You can't build a brand with your own expertise. You need to be in an organization that understands and can talk the brand game. Without the organization dialed into the branding commitment as a team," he says, "you'll go nowhere. When the leadership understands that branding is more than a logo and that it's the promise of an experience that has to be executed across all disciplines, you can make things happen."
He has learned that a brand is only as good as its relevance to an audience. "Otherwise, it's an exercise in futility," he says. "The brand is an extension of business strategy. You have to have a clear plan as to who the customers are and what they want."
His game plan for the network: "We're going to be taking care of core business—including OLN's origins in field-and-stream programming—and be sure we're taking care of that loyal audience," he explains. "But we're also going to revitalize the brand by making big investments in such action sports as surfing and more winter sports, as well as in new series unrelated to sporting events."
An OLN version of Biography, travel fare, and some reality programming are in the offing. He's also exploring spinning off OLN's content from analog to HD and VOD.
Now in the boss's seat, Harvey finds himself forced to resist the temptation to dive into the creative process. "Not only is it impossible because my attention is needed elsewhere," he says, "but I need to be a coach, not a player."
In his spare time? A high-priority item on his personal sports agenda: fishing "anywhere I can drop a line." Favorite fishing partner: his daughter, who caught the bug recently when he gave her a fishing pole for her seventh birthday.
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