My Media Week: Charlie Varley

Charlie Varley, planning director at MediaVest (Manchester) tells us about his 4am starts, his countrywide adventures and the battle to meet his Weight Watchers points.

Charlie Varley: planning director at MediaVest (Manchester)
Charlie Varley: planning director at MediaVest (Manchester)


Since my office is in Manchester and home is Oxford, Mondays normally start at 4:13am with a drive North to miss the traffic.

I have the luxury of a lie-in today, with a morning client meeting scheduled in London. Presentation to finish on the train for tonight's meeting in my media consumption starts the week pretty empty.

My Manchester crew text me at 9:31am just as I'm entering Starcom MediaVest sixth floor, demanding "where r u?"

We've got three hours to review the May digital performance with our SeaFrance client and agree the plans for the run up to their key summer period.

With train from Paddington to Taunton not until 2:15pm, I call Jon Horrocks at Walker Media to see if he fancies a quick lunch. Swap Weight Watchers progress stories over a bottle of Rosé at Salt Yard on Goodge Street.

Arrive at Holiday Inn, Taunton in time for meeting with regional managing director of Barratt Group.

Present latest econometrics insights and then have dinner with his four sales directors and their teams.

The client then runs a pub quiz for the assembled party. Agency team wins, so "forfeit" requires sponsoring the bar late into the night. Won't go into the details of the pint of Baileys episode.

I've blown my daily Weight Watchers target with 75 points – must do better tomorrow.


No idea where I am when Apple Marimba ringtone permeates a very dark room. Discover at check-out that my client has picked up my room bill – what a pleasant surprise.

Train back to London (thumb through the Times, whilst getting presentations for later in the week sorted) to meet at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall with the editor and managing director of property website Property Drum.

We discuss proposals for my presentation slot at their annual property conference in September (I was recommended to them by Mark Milner at The Digital Property Group).

Then follows a conference call for an hour with Barratt Group marketing client, before lunch with James Wildman and Steve Brown at Hawksmoor Seven Dials with MediaVest managing director Elliot Muscant.

Old school lunch with lashings of Porterhouse and Red (Alc 14.5 vol). Have a very funny time going over March's Altitude Conference spent with Yahoo in Chamonix.

Train back to Oxford in time for youngest daughter's (15) annual sports review at Headington School.

Finally catch up with saint Cheryl's 'X Factor' news from America with News at 10.

Sixty-six points today – not good.


Train back to London at 7am to get over to Mansion House for 9:30am meeting with Skandia head of marketing. We do all their search engine marketing and the new website is performing well.

Meeting is over at 10:30am, then it's a short stroll in beautiful sunshine to St Bride's Church in Fleet Street to attend the memorial service for Peter Howard-William (the former managing director of Rank Screen Advertising and Pearl & Dean).

Truly the great and godly from 30 years in advertising and media have turned out for "Mr Cinema," including all my old bosses John Perriss and Alec Kenny from the Saatchi & Saatchi days, Stephen White and Jonathan Durden formerly of WCRS, Ray Kelly from Carat and too many more to mention.

After the service we go downstairs to The Press Club to raise a glass to Peter.

On to Oxford Circus for a catch up with Jeremy Hipkiss, head of marketing and sales at Barratt Group.

Decide to sit outside in the sunshine at Carluccio's opposite his office.

Back to Publicis in Baker Street to catch end of the regular monthly internal meeting with assembled ranks of account handlers who look after Barratt's 26 companies around the UK.

Back on track today and within guideline daily points.


Tracksuit on at 4:13am. Thermos mug of tea and banana and on the road at 4:25am.

Catch up with the world with 'Wake up to Money' and 'Today' programmes interspersed with station flicking up to Birmingham and beyond.

Arrive in Manchester at 7am. Straight into The Midland Hotel gym for a two-mile treadmill run – I hate running.

Then a morning of new business meetings. Meeting with Chris Bunniss (previously European marketing director at SSL – a client prior to the purchase by Reckitt Benckiser) and a very clever creative technologist, Jim Brooks. We'll be doing some work together.

Straight into next meeting with the young drummer of the year in 2005 who now has his own group, Madison. We're discussing a new business venture of his, and how MediaVest might be able to be involved.

This is followed by an afternoon spent in internal meetings with Dave Lucas, MediaVest managing partner and commercial director Tony Blease.

Leave the office at 6pm and head to Trafford for a golf lesson, then on to Warrington for an hour with my personal trainer.

Back to Old Trafford and gatecrash the end of the North West How-Do Awards 2011 ceremony. Crash at our company flat in Manchester – no idea of what time we got back.

Lack of food today kept the points in check.


Off to Greater Manchester for a 9am meeting with a new business prospect. She confirms we're on the pitch in June – fantastic news.

Back to Manchester office to see my teams, who haven't seen me all week, and for meetings with ITV and Sky.

Leave the office at 4pm for three-hour trek down to Oxford. Annoyingly the M6 is jammed with bank holiday traffic.

Dinner with my daughter (20) in Oxford who's just passed her second year university exams.

Start a conversation with an artist at the next table who creates pen and ink, watercolour washes of well known city street-scapes.

He needs some help with e-tailing. We swap contact details and he leaves me a pile of his illustrations. Maybe a pro-bono opportunity?

Early start in the morning as playing golf in Gloucestershire with Mike Cooper, CEO of PHD Network.

Weigh-in on Sunday – expect two pounds gained.

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