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A peek behind the doors at MPG International

14 December 2010
A peek behind the doors at MPG International
Martina Lacey accepts an invitation to MPG International Media Contacts’ office to observe the daily triumphs and disappointments of life as an agency wrestling with the priorities of delivering clients creativity, cost effectiveness and integrated communications.

“I woke up this morning having a panic attack, thinking what have I got myself into agreeing to let you guys do this,” exclaims MPG International managing partner David Goodall. This marks the beginning of a day which I will spend as a fl y on the wall at MPG International Media Contacts’ London office.

What can possibly go wrong in eight hours that will include a new hire fl ying in from New York, a last-minute pitch and the fallout from a national print ad?

It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to assume that heads will roll when a major advertiser launches a new national print ad campaign in a UK title and production is seriously impaired.

But by the time I join the weekly Monday status meeting, the client has taken it all in their stride. I am full of admiration for their composed demeanor. “The ad was unfortunate and not what we wanted for the launch of a new campaign. However, I am confident that we managed to get to a good place with the media owner in the end and I am satisfied with the outcome,” explains Goodall.

I joined a meeting with Libby Hills, global head of advertising at Credit Suisse who has been a client of MPG International since 2007 with business director Rubi Pabani specifically appointed to head up the account.

For Hills, it is important not to do marketing activity for the sake of it, but to try something different. “Everyone assumes that banks have large budgets, but when you compare it to some FMCG players it is minuscule,” she says. “We need to make sure that every penny is spent in a clever way and with efficiency. It is important that our agency understands what we can and can’t do.”

Spending and working in a clever way is the mantra of media agencies around the globe. There is still a need in the industry for people who can operate seamlessly across media platforms while also demonstrating cutting-edge digital knowledge. This need for cross-platform skills is underlined by the spectrum of media owner meetings that I sit in on.


A pan-regional print media owner comes in with potential specs for a multi-market campaign that planners are evaluating. Meanwhile, a meeting with a digital music service provider is arranged at the request of a client who likes what it is doing with other advertisers and wants MPG to find out more on its behalf.

New hire Denise Leone, joining the team from Optimedia San Francisco, will be working on BMI, BAE, Axa, Exxon, McAffee, Fx Pro, Australian Wool Innovation, the New York Stock Exchange and the BBC as group account director. She is part of MPG’s efforts to find the right people with the right knowledge – which is not always easy.

“It’s difficult to find good people who can operate in a fully integrated world. We’ve all grown up in a world that’s not integrated but as we move towards the only obvious conclusion that agencies have to offer a fully integrated communications solution, we have to make sure our biggest asset, our people, are prepared,” says Goodall.

“People who can work seamlessly across platforms are still quite rare and it will take time. Over the past two years, the new starters have grown up in an integrated world and it is these people who will become the stars of the future. In the meantime, people with broad ranging media knowledge, which includes the latest digital technologies, are proving hard to find.”

Leone’s first day includes learning the UK term for a cookie and, snacks aside, becoming acquainted with the team she will work with and what their individual areas of expertise are. An overview of clients’ histories and arranging face-to-face meetings also come top of the agenda.

Another pressing issue is Christmas holiday allocation: when to take it, who can take it and the importance of planning ahead to make sure that clients’ needs can always be met.

“Holidays are a nightmare and more important than people realise,” explains Pabani. “It all depends on when the client is in the office and we need to make sure that we have a skeleton staff available at all times and ready to work. It is unbelievable how complicated it can be to arrange, but we always manage to sort it out one way or another.”

Martina Lacey


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