The appointment of Nicky Parkinson as the new managing director of Nickelodeon UK has been greeted with surprise in Britain, not least because most of her career has been spent working in marketing rather than in television. But Parkinson, who took over at the beginning of February following a six-month search to replace Janie Grace, brushes aside such implied criticism, insisting that she is in fact ‘a media person.’
‘I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a kids expert,’ she says. ‘But I would like to draw attention to my experience in broadcasting. Anyway, although marketing has been the focus of my career, it covers a broad spectrum of the business. Everyone who works for a media company is involved in some aspect of marketing.’
Forty-year-old Parkinson, who has a reputation for kicking ass, spent the last five years at Turner marketing Cartoon Network and TNT across Europe. Previously she had been employed in advertising, having toiled as an account director with Saatchis, Grey and Collett Dickenson Pearce.
That she has been given the top Nickelodeon job over the heads of general manager Paul Lindley and head of programmes Howard Litton suggests how important branding is now, in what is an increasingly crowded market place-one that will become more competitive still if government backing is given for the BBC’s two digital children’s channels.
Parkinson acknowledges that she has much to learn about Nickelodeon and admits that she was initially reluctant to apply for the job. At the time, she had no desire to work for the opposition, but as she learned more about the post her interest was aroused.
Parkinson says it is far too early to say what her plans are for Nickelodeon, but she appears determined to keep both Lindley and Litton on-side. The pair will work with her as part of a new management team. ‘I have great respect for their leadership in helping to build one of the U.K.’s most respected and successful operations,’ she insists.
But will they be able to stand the pace? Shortly after arriving at Turner, she was nicknamed ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’ Parkinson following a feisty performance at an in-house conference.