'We thought we were Mad Men but we were drinking in Tiger Tiger': Chris Maples on life after advertising
After a lifetime in high-profile ad sales, Chris Maples departed his post of VP, Europe at Spotify to try something completely different – running a school. In the third part of The Drum’s Why I Left Advertising series, he chats through his reasons for departing the industry, and discusses how his life is different now.
“I’ve never run a school before,” Maples admits. “So in a practical sense, everything is different.
“Just before it looked like I might get offered the job, my wife and I sat down and I said: ‘This will be a different experience for me but it’s not without risk’. She said: ‘Well I haven’t seen you this excited in about six years so I think you should do it’.”
Maples is the chief executive of the Met Film School based in the historic Ealing Studios. He leads the strategic direction of the institute, which includes ambitious expansion plans and uses his background in advertising to “better position the school in what it is a pretty competitive world”.
When he decided to leave Spotify in July 2014, there was no plan. All he knew was a big corporate job was not on the cards, having previously worked for Microsoft and watched Spotify go from burgeoning startup to worldwide music platform.
“I felt like I wasn’t making as bigger impact as I could,” he says. “The direction of the commercial business was definitely going in a way that I didn’t necessarily think was the right way. There was less freedom to do what we thought was the right thing.
“And going from six to 80 markets is the fun bit. Going from 80 to 120 is less fun.”
After nearly six months running the show out in Ealing, does he ever pine for the heady days of advertising in 1990s? Not quite.
“I think the heady days of the industry are always the ones that happened the generation before you,” he explains. “The generation before me were the ones that drove Jaguars as company cars and going off to the TV conference in Monaco. Suddenly things became accountable for my generation.
“People still enjoyed themselves, but everyone worked hard. It certainly wasn’t Mad Men. We might have thought we were Mad Men at one point but we were having a drink in Tiger Tiger. It’s not really like drinking on a yacht.”
He adds: “For me, this is the first real time that I’ve led [big changes in a company]. I’ve been part of senior management team before but here, the plan is the one I sign off on. I have responsibility here. So this is my future – that’s my plan now.”
Other episodes in the series
Kate Robertson on leaving advertising : ‘You never realise how bad materialism in the industry is until you get outside'
Today (7 December) sees The Drum launch a new video series examining the myriad reasons behind personal exits from the marketing world. Why I Left Advertising’s first subject, One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson, details her industry insights only garnered after resigning from her position as president of Havas Worldwide in 2015.
Jonathan Durden on exiting the industry: 'I felt bored being treated like gold'
In the second in The Drum's Why I Left Advertising series, we speak to PHD co-founder Jonathan Durden about his escape from - and re-entry into - the media and marketing industries.
Emer Stamp's journey from ECD to children’s author: ‘Advertising gives you a very hard skin’
In the fourth episode of Why I Left Advertising, Emer Stamp, the former Adam&EveDDB executive creative director, explains her reasoning for giving up life as a creative to write and illustrate full-time.
Dave Buonaguidi on his hiatus from the industry: ‘You shouldn’t hate working at your own agency – but I did’
When Karmarama co-founder Dave Buonaguidi quit the agency he founded, he did so publically, lambasting the “professional creatives who are only creative between the hours of 9am and 6pm” who work in agencies all based on Mad Men”. Yet now he’s back in ad land, working as creative director at CP+B.
‘It felt like either I’d gone mad, or everyone else had gone mad’: why Paul Pateman had to give up his life in advertising
Paul ‘Pâté’ Pateman left advertising to become a graphic illustrator after a bout of pneumonia forced him to rethink his career path. But years before, as a creative director at TBWA, he had felt the first pull away from the industry.
‘It’s just fucking advertising’: Natalie Marsan on giving up the NYC grind for travel, work and family
Natalie Marsan has managed to do what was once the impossible: raise a baby, hold down a London-based job while living in Croatia, and travel – constantly. But less than three years ago she was buried deep in New York’s marketing scene. In the latest episode of Why I Left Advertising, Marsan explains why and how she became a nomadic working mother.