28 JUL 2020
19 MIN READ
My Media Journey – Freddie Brown
I started my journey in this incredibly fast paced and changing industry two years ago this July. The weeks leading up to even finding out I had bagged myself a place on the Early Talent apprenticeship scheme here at MediaCom, I found myself in an odd situation and a very hard moment in my life. Along with the passing of my grandad, I had left college, knowing full well that university wasn’t for me, and I had taken a leap of faith into the unknown. I knew I wanted to learn on the job and I wanted to take my enthusiastic drive for learning, and put it into something that I really felt proud of. I still feel lucky to have found MediaCom.
My first day came and as I walked through the revolving doors, I felt a rush of adrenaline kick in. I was greeted with 16 other faces, ready to embark on our Ad-land journey. A diverse bunch, as you might say, all from different backgrounds. Most, like me, had just left college, few tried university and realised it wasn’t for them and some others wanted to change their lives for the better completely. I remember immediately feeling welcome. What a great bunch.
The scheme meant that I would rotate round three different departments in one year, and first up was planning. Life as a planner was a true learning curve for me. Not only was I getting used to what life felt like in an office, I was only just beginning to get my head round what it means to work in media, full stop. I learnt from the very best during this first rotation and started my first piece of work on one of the UK’s most prestigious insurance brands. I was given the opportunity to understand the key challenges they faced and the solutions MediaCom could offer. I soon learnt that a lot of what we do is working on a problem and finding the best answer for our clients – then implementing them. Those first few months at MediaCom really helped me understand the opportunity for growth within the company. Not only from a career perspective, but also my mental health and ability to evoke change in the work we do. Day in, day out, I was beginning to be surrounded by a network of colleagues who helped me be myself and helped shape me into an individual with the correct work ethic for the job. I learnt so much in the first few months and soon started to understand what exactly it takes to piece together the best work for our clients and how to liaise with all key stakeholders on various touch points throughout the projects.
Swiftly came along the second rotation. Now, in a whole other realm of media… social media. I was working into a new manager (now a lifelong friend) and it was here within MediaCom’s creative department, MBA, that I think I found my place in this game. Social media was more familiar to me, as of course we use it every day, but there was so much more to it than just one like. My team taught me the ins and outs of influencer marketing, the joys of HFSS, the importance of consumer management and how to tackle an array of performance KPIs within this section of the media. It was here, also, that I got a taste for production and I soon realised that this was what I wanted to do. I should mention that whilst all this was happening, us apprentices were also working through coursework to help strengthen our learning and work towards a Level 3 NVQ in Media Marketing. I managed to start to work on my communication skills during this rotation, and was therefore getting a lot more confident in myself. With a manager as a Mental Health Ally within the building, not only did we work on me and the work I do, we also worked together on an emotional level, developing my outlook on life and educating myself on speaking out and talking. We also worked on my insecurities, for example, taking clients through some learnings or project slides (on the phone or in person) and it was here during this rotation that my manager trained me to evoke the confidence I knew I had.
By the time I had moved onto my last rotation, I had experienced summer, autumn and winter at MediaCom. I think it is easy to forget how much your life changes from being a college student to a full-time worker in London. I can hold my hands up and say that I found myself getting quite crushed when I would commute into and home from work in the dark. The winter days could feel so long. I was in my first full year of commuting and I was experiencing these things for the first time. MediaCom always told me how important it is to talk, so I did. This is when I really started to use my commute as an opportunity to either learn something new, watch a TV show that has been on my list for ages or read up on things I knew I wouldn’t have time to read normally. By the last rotation, I was starting to have conversations with my peers on future full-time roles and work out where I could fit on this big jigsaw.
During my last rotation on a very exciting MediaCom account, I had the chance of putting all I had learnt over the last 8 months into these last few months. It was in this rotation when I really started to understand life in this industry. I was lucky enough to open up my expertise in OOH, digital and print media and my manager taught me how to really add value to the team’s working environment, as well as our client work and how to take one idea and stretch this into a full linear campaign with all the touchpoints to meet our client’s KPIs. I even got the chance to lead on a very important Father’s Day activation as well as seeing the unfolding of our account’s new flagship store in Covent Garden. Now, approaching the end of my apprenticeship, I was really starting to really love the opportunities this industry can offer, and the endless scope for our client’s growth.
Now one year had passed. I was interviewing for a few roles in the building. With a desired interest to work within production, the role of Production Exec was open on the MBA Branded Entertainment team. Responding to a brief was how the interview was structured and with pressure on, I had to be quick about my research, pull together a compelling story and get my argument across. 2 weeks later I was starting my new role within Partnerships & Branded Entertainment. I was thrilled.
Now in my new role, I wanted to give it everything I had. I am probably over-enthusiastic sometimes, but I was desperate to get working! Finding my place within the team was top of the to-do list. What was it that I can be doing in order to help my colleagues and client teams day-to-day in order to add value? As I gradually got scoped into projects, I found shadowing my manager or AD on work, which massively helped me to get my head around MBA’s ways of working. Along with 4 other projects at the time, one stand-out project was the work we did on Supermarket Sweep with Tesco. With not very much production experience to date, being involved on this AFP in Aug/Sep of 2019 was one of the best pieces of work I have been involved in to-date (let alone the most fun). Not only was it thrilling to be able to work with Tesco on such a big activation, I found enormous pleasure in bringing Sweep together, as part of a wider value campaign for Tesco. All elements of the project, from social to in-store activation and to the creation of bespoke branded idents – it was just the best project to learn from the best and to see the best work in action (three ‘best’ used in the same sentence there!). When it came to the post campaign analysis, I found myself sitting back and thinking about everything that I had learnt on this perfect piece of branded content.
Ad-funded programs are mammoth projects, but within my team I also get to work across sponsorship, as well as partnerships. I love to work with my colleagues within the MBA production team, and the working environment that MBA created within the office, was the perfect place to be heard, grow and part of a great team. The key thing I have learnt with my department is that as long as our work continues to create strong relevant and cultural campaigns, we will continue to play a massive part in this industry, not to mention society.
But, two years on from the moment I walked through those doors in Holborn, we are all at a turning point, not just in society, but in ad-land itself. Everyone knows it, and I am incredibly excited to see it unfold so early in my career,
COVID-19 has totally shaken the world. Two years ago, I was starting fresh on a new journey. One year ago, I was starting my new role in MBA and now we ALL face the new world, consisting of uncertainty, change and, in some instances, revolutions. From the way we work, to how society operates, 2020 has already been the year for change. In a new world where Zoom means you can be in India at 9am and New York at 3pm, all in the same day, finding the new normal has been forced upon us. Working from home for me has actually benefited my health and mental well-being. Without a commute to worry about, I have been able to balance time for a good run, or a nice walk in my lunch break and really switch off when it comes to the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my team on floor 2, but I have succumbed to the benefits of staying at home.
Coronavirus has also brought myself and my team Celebs Go Virtual Dating, a new AFP with Extra Chewing Gum. The perfect project for the times we live in. I know this will soon become a highlight of my year/career so far. How rewarding it is to work with such an evolving client as they break through the barriers of online dating (something our world will need to get more used to) and align their brand with finding your other half! The brand aligns so well with this one-off special show and as the world went into lockdown, the way people date was forcibly flipped on its head. Therefore, for Extra, this opened the opportunity to hone-in on a range of new moments to bring confidence to their audiences’ lives. Celebs Go Virtual Dating will bring confidence to those navigating this brave new world.
2 years have gone by so quickly. I have come a long way from that college student I used to know. As I continue to work in this rapidly moving industry, I am excited to log on each day. Being young in this game it has its benefits too. You learn from the best and work with the best, working on your own KPIs each day. The last few months have prompted a lot of questions for everyone individually and for me personally, as I celebrate 2 years of working in media, I think about how different the world is now, compared to then. Who knows what’s next?