I am a real morning person, which drives my wife nuts, so I usually wake up at 5.30am - helped by my two children Fred (six) and Phoebe (four). From there, it’s a straight sprint on my scooter from Muswell Hill to MEC’s offices in Paris Gardens in Waterloo, where I start the day with an 8.30am meeting with business development director Cormac Loughran. MEC is holding a networking evening in November for some of our biggest clients, including Orange, Chanel and Morrisons, and Cormac tells me he has secured Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales as our keynote speaker.
I then catch up with two of our client service directors, Sarah Hennessy and Carol Middleton. The agency is growing really fast, with 104 appointments this year, which means it is even more important to keep connecting with everyone - my only problem is that I am terrible with names. I then make a quick dash to Great Titchfield Street to meet Jonathan Townsend, the former creative director of Rapier, to discuss how we can collaborate with the new agency he has just launched.
In the early days of my career, I worked at Y&R Media (which later became The Media Edge and, eventually, MEC) and a group of us from Y&R still get together for lunch every two months. So I head to an Indian cafe called Dishoom on St Martin’s Lane to meet James Whitmore, now at Postar; Ian Clark, now at News Int; and Simon Andrews, who runs a mobile agency called Addictive Mobile. Simon tells us all about mobile use in South America, which is very interesting.
Back in the office, I spend some time on admin for client business and budget planning for 2011 before sitting down with chief strategy officer Stuart Sullivan-Martin to talk through the framework for our presentation for Media Week’s Agency of the Year award. The numbers look good, so we think about how we can tell the most cohesive, engaging story and add energy to it.
Rise at 6am and go for a run around Muswell Hill - I did the NABS 5k run in 22 minutes 20 seconds last week, so all my training must be paying off. Then it’s straight into the 9am MEC management meeting, where we run through the issues of the week and listen to a presentation from guest speaker Gary Hollins from Wonder, who has been working on some people and culture projects for us.
Wine-tasting and lunch at Berry Brothers is next on the agenda, as part of Sky Media’s annual presentation to each of the major media agencies, hosted by Nick Milligan, Johnny Lester, Jeremy Tester and Graham Appleby. I went along thinking Sky couldn’t come up with any more ideas, however I am very impressed and they give us a lot to think about - Sky is now as much a technology company as a media company. Even better, I beat my nine colleagues to win the wine-tasting competition and am given five very nice bottles of wine - that’s Christmas sorted.
After lunch, I make a call to the Nintendo client and talk to Ed Ling, our managing director of global solutions, who calls from Warsaw with a new business prospect. Back at home I also have a long telephone conversation with media headhunter Kathleen Saxton, who placed head of strategy Vera Budimlija and M4C’s outgoing managing director Alex Altman with us.
After losing a game of Star Wars top trumps with my son at 6am, I start the day by interviewing a candidate for the position of new business director. I also do part two of broadcast director Phil Wise’s annual review, which is very positive - he has done a great job and we are very aligned on where we want his department to go.
I then look at the budget for 2011 with Drew Engelbright, our finance director, before dashing to Golden Square to pick up a half-size guitar for my son, who is starting guitar lessons on Friday. Notice a poster for Lloyds on a billboard near Waterloo is obscured by trees so I call the account director, who then calls the specialists at Kinetic, who assure us they will clear th branches within the hour.
Back in the office I do a quick review of resourcing in the comms planning team with client service directors Carl Middleton, Sarah Hennessey and James Atherton, before catching up with David Fletcher, head of analytics and insight. I then do an hour’s preparation for the Agency of the Year presentation with Cormac Loughran - we look at some of the film work we have, discuss the structure of the pitch and think about how we want to dress the room. I take the presentation home and read it while I am cooking dinner. My wife Sophie, who works at a packaging and design agency, won a big pitch earlier in the day so we have a glass of wine to celebrate.
Go running at 6am around Muswell Hill before meeting Jim Taylor, the planning director of retail agency G2, for breakfast in Waterloo. Jim used to work at MEC, and he was my co-writer on a business book called Rigorous Magic, published in 2007. I then have a meeting with Peter Kemp, planning director of M4C, to hear his plans for the COI business before heading out to Indigo in Aldwych for an energising and inspiring lunch with Mark Howe, UK sales director at Google.
The rest of the day is spent putting the final touches to our Agency of the Year presentation with chief executive Tom George, Cormac Loughran, Sarah Hennessey, Stuart Sullivan-Martin, Ifrana Zaffar, Lucy Ostermeyer, Nicola Moreck and Jason Dormieux. It feels like a pitch; the adrenalin is flowing and everyone is on sparkling form, with plenty of healthy rows about images and font sizes.
We work until 10pm (with a break for a Deliverance order at 7pm) although welcome relief is provided by Jayan Chauhan, who gives his leaving speech before he moves to Arena Quantum - I haven’t laughed so much for a long time.
The team reconvenes at 8am to make the final amendments to the Agency of the Year pitch and to have one last run-through. Then, before we know it, media owners including Paul Hayes from News International, Shortlist Media’s Mike Soutar, Rob Atkinson from Clear Channel, IPC’s chief executive Evelyn Webster and Andy Barnes from Channel 4 are waiting in reception.
The questions from the judging panel - chaired by the RAB’s Linda Smith - are tough but fair and, regardless of the outcome, it feels as though everyone in the room is working towards the same objective: proving the value of what we do and helping clients develop their business through communications.
It is good to take a step back and look at what the year has brought MEC and I enjoy the open nature of the questions, which give us a lot to think about. I am also very proud of seeing our first-time presenters rise to the challenge - so proud, in fact, that I take the presenting team for a few congratulatory drinks at The Oxo Tower before we join a few more MECers at the local pub.