Charlie Newbery
Jun 16, 2014

Why MediaWorks works

When was the last time you were thrown into a room with ten strangers and asked to work on, and present, a pitch in under two days?

Charlie Newbery
Charlie Newbery

Everyone has a favourite pitch anecdote.

Stories of pitches become urban myths. Ad-types the world over vividly recount the story of the agency who turned their reception into a railway waiting room, and kept their rail client waiting with a grey coffee. You’ve heard that story, right?

But these ‘pitch tales’ are the preserve of old dogs, told with misty reverence to wide-eyed young execs.

Over two chaotic days, the Campaign MediaWorks Event launched 120 of Asia’s brightest talents into the middle of what will become their first ever pitch anecdote.

And I’m confident each of these 120 new stories will be worth hearing.

When was the last time you were thrown into a room with ten strangers and asked to work on, and present, a pitch in under two days?

Oh and I forgot to say that these ten strangers are from completely different countries and cultural backgrounds. They have totally different skills. And did I mention that they have to present to their boss’s, boss’s, boss’s boss?

For me that would be Sir Martin Sorrell. I get serious heebie jeebies at the mere thought.

If you get shortlisted, you have to present to a room full of 110 of your brightest peers, not to mention some of the most senior media leaders in the business. Have you ever done that? I’m guessing the answer’s no.

When was the last time you had minimal sleep over two days, and still had to meet at 7:30am for media training? Or attended a media conference all day, and in the evening instead of kicking back with dinner and drinks, locked yourself in your hotel room to work on a pitch?

It all sounds crazy doesn’t it?

I was lucky enough to be invited to be a mentor at this year’s MediaWorks Event, and here are my three anecdotes:

1) Team selfies drive collaboration and creativity

You can never take enough team selfies. Is there a simpler way of raising energy levels, expressing solidarity, and sparking a bit of creativity? A team selfie says ‘we’re together on this, facing the same way’.  With each new picture I am forced to strain my brain striving to come up with a new unique grimace. Selfies rule.

2) Create a chat group

Communicating quickly as a team is critical. Can you think of a faster way for ten people to share pictures, thoughts, experiences and work than a WeChat or WhatsApp group? You have probably set up a group to organize a holiday or a night out but never thought about doing it for work. Create one. It’ll re-frame the speed with which you communicate. It changes the relationships you have with colleagues from a worky-email thing to a friendly chatty thing.

3) Being friendly is the key to success

In spite of their mentor, my team was able to win. And what was the key to their success? Without wanting to sound like a misguided hippie, I think the answer is good energy (maaan). My team just clicked. There was never a moment where someone spoke over anyone else. I never got the faintest whiff of disagreement. That counts for a lot when you have a huge amount to do and no time at all.

I could go on and on about the MediaWorks experience, but you don’t want to hear more from me.

Find the person in your agency who attended MediaWorks, buy them a coffee, and find out what they learnt.

I can promise you it’ll be worth hearing.

Charlie Newbery is regional head of media at Red Fuse Communications Asia



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