I know Chris Dobson quite well, and know the trouble he faced working with the faceless American corporation which never really grasped the idea of brand.
He survived the ‘dropping’ of MSN as a brand, and various attempts to reinvent Microsoft’s online business;
First, when MSN was to become a software services company, selling subscription products and advertising revenue was to be the icing on the subscription cake. Meanwhile, Chris plodded away, building an incredibly well regarded and profitable brand advertising business. The subscription business died quickly.
Next up, Microsoft were to get all their revenue from search. The brand business was kicked, suffering from the loss of a huge revenue stream when they were forced to drop a very lucrative deal with Overture and adopt the new Microsoft AdCenter instead. The Overture deal had been signed before the Yahoo purchase and would have been valuable to Microsoft but unprofitable for Yahoo, but Microsoft were happy to let Yahoo off the hook, and take a huge hit themselves. Despite this, Chris continued to run a tight ship and make increasingly unrealistic targets.
So he’s rumoured to be going to BBC Worldwide, where his old MSN chum Tom Bowman went a year ago. It’ll be interesting to see what position he takes up there. The US’s loss is the UK’s gain.