My Media Week: Ann Wixley

This week, Ann Wixley tells us what it's like to be creative director for media agency MEC, via Clockwork Orange-style posing and Tate Modern courses.

Ann Wixley: creative director for media agency MEC
Ann Wixley: creative director for media agency MEC

Monday

I'm greeted at the front door by a front door. Our spanking new reception looks very grown up. 1 Paris Garden has been under construction for months. Everyone's wide-eyed and smiling as lattes are handed out.

I sit down with one of our comms directors to start work on an integrated planning brief for a new campaign. This is part of our Navigator planning process and a good way to interrogate all angles of it and anchor a diverse team. I'm looking forward to working on this with the social media and partnerships teams.

My job is to lead the creative process connecting the specialists together, to create a central idea that we can amplify relevantly.

In the afternoon, we have a big internal company meeting Thames-side, where Steve (Hatch – MEC chief executive) and team walk everyone through an exciting vision for the agency and how we’re going to stay ahead of the curve.

Later, I book myself on a six-week night course at Tate Modern. My job is split between external-facing output – working with different client teams to create engagement ideas,  and internal-facing work – empowering and inspiring teams across the agency to be more creative.

I need to fill my own tank whenever I can.

Tuesday

On the Tube commute in, I play around with how I will frame the first brainstorm session on the new brief.

My first meeting is with the operational board. We meet to discuss how we will work with the management board and the company to make things happen. I leave the meeting a bit smarter.

Next is the first of the series of brainstorms I'm leading for the new brief, a hop and a skip from logical thinking to lateral. It’s good to get started.

I've been slowly working my way through the agency, taking teams through a short training module on the creative process and structuring brainstorms to give them the confidence to let go and create. It draws on James Webb Young and Dr Edward De Bono's thinking.

A quick gym stop (a fix I hate to do without as I put my mind together via my body), then onto a farewell dinner party for a creative director friend moving to LA to work for David & Goliath. He threatens to come back "with tits … a tasteful full B cup, of course."

Wednesday

I meet a media owner who shares a virtual game idea centred around using mobile phones for payment on the high street. I spot a good opportunity for two of our clients and rope in the relevant people to explore further.

I sit down to focus on refining the "big five" – my nickname for some ideas I've been working on for a client. I've been working closely with Verra Budimlija, our head of strategy. We have a tissue session with the client on Friday. I enjoy pairing up with a planner – my way of thinking needs their logic and context.

I have to be flexible as I pair up with different people on different projects and don’t have a consistent creative buddy or team. The agency is my team.

As part of my internal-facing work, I host a slot at the company meeting called The Cabinet (The Cabinet of Curiosities). June's upcoming slot will showcase content generated by the agency, so there are logistics to sort out with Lucy, who is curating this with me.

I work too late to get to the gym – I should know better!  I resort to very nineties Moloko dance tracks to get me home.

Thursday

A second brainstorm for the new brief with another small group starts the day off nicely. We're getting somewhere I think. I share a rough long list of ideas and territories with our social media activation director, to put them into his brain for the weekend. We'll start building on the top three ideas next week to see if we have something.

I run, slightly late, into an internal new starter's induction session to introduce myself and the creative director role. The introduction is important because my role is still somewhat unusual in a media agency, and there’s a need to give people permission to be more creative across the board, whether they are producing engagement ideas or presenting data creatively.

I write up details on an idea created with MEC Access for a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) sponsorship to match it to the bespoke rights package.

Friday

Verra and I have our client tissue session. Our client really gets it and gives us very useful builds to refine the ideas further. I’ve earned my title today.

I doodle through a meeting that looks like it could be a hen party, as for some reason, there are more girls than seem strictly necessary, then cab it across town to see video production company Channelflip, to build on some content ideas for mainstream mums we’ve been working on.

I return in time to be filmed for a video entry by one of the teams for our internal MEC Awards. I end up on my hands and knees on a table – a bit 'Clockwork Orange' nightclub scene. I think I may regret this.

Lots more to do, but I call it a day. Long weekend, hoorah!

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