The media and marketing sector is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by Tom Ollerton, a consultant in the field of creative artificial intelligence and the host of The Shiny New Objects podcast, which has begun syndication through The Drum.
What was your first ever job?
Pizza Pizza in Morpeth, Northumberland. I learned to never to let someone startle you whilst taking a pizza from the back of a pizza oven. The reason for this is that you will jump, then burn your hand on the top of the oven. You will recoil from this and burn your hand on the bottom of the oven and then this process repeats itself till you have third degree burns and everyone in a packed pizza shop is laughing at you.
Why did you get into the ad industry?
I was a broke.
I’d had a record deal, made a bad album and watched my music career take a nose dive into the sea. I’d had a spin at being a chef - which was magical but the pay was woeful. I was thirty years old with no real prospects.
So I walked into Damian Kimmelman’s (founder of DueDil) agency and demanded the unpaid intern job that had been posted on Gumtree a few minutes previously. He was a bit weirded out by me but he gave me the position, trusted me and I worked my failed-artist ass off.
Best activity to do for a team away day?
Instead of an away day I’d recommend sending your staff on a stand up comedy course. This will ‘train’ you to write 5 mins worth of material and perform it on stage in-front of a packed comedy club. I did this and went on to do 200 gigs. At an early performance someone shouted “you’re boring” after I was on stage for nine seconds. The upside of this experience is that I’ll never be intimidated by any audience anywhere.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the industry since working within it?
I’ve spent the last few months on building a start up (in secret) that uses creative artificial intelligence to make ads. It’s surprised me (and my clients) how effective it is.
What is the most exciting thing about your job?
Working with creative artificial intelligence is comparable to Marty McFly plugging in his guitar into a giant amp and getting blown across the room at the start of Back to the Future. The industry is about to be torn a new one.
Which person/people would you most want to spend a day with in the pub? Family and friends not allowed.
Assuming the pub opened at 11. I’d get a booth, set up my microphone and record 10 episodes of the Shiny New Object podcast in a row. That would mean I’d done two months work in a day. Then I’d sit on my own, upload it all to Soundcloud and then drink as much posh tequila I could get my hands on.
What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?
Nothing’s ever as bad or as good as you think it is.
If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?
If buzzwords/jargon can get the job done quicker or better then use them. If not don’t.
What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Leave your job. Set up your own business. You can do it.
Catch up with more other interviews from the 10 Questions With... series.