Media Agency Culture Business Leadership

What I learned… climbing the media ranks, with Andrew Mason of Digitas

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By Sam Anderson | Editor, The Drum Network

March 10, 2022 | 6 min read

Andrew Mason is chief media officer at Digitas, where he oversees a media team of more than 200. He tells us that it’s a career he stumbled into, learning the ropes as he went. We sat down with him to find out what he’s learned along the way, from the importance of knowing your numbers to the mantra, “it’s just media, don’t get so stressed about it.”

Neatly organized media devices and objects

Andrew Mason on his eclectic media career / Julius Drost via Unsplash

Hi, Andrew. Tell us a little about who you are and what you do now.

I’m chief media officer at Digitas – the connected experience agency, with strategy, technology, data, creativity and media under one roof. My day-to-day is always varied but ultimately I’m responsible for the long-term development of the media capability at Digitas. This includes overseeing over 200 employees in the media team, participating in new business pitches and representing Digitas in the broader media community.

I hear that the route to your current role contains an element of chance...

Yes. After completing a degree in criminology, I set my sights on working for either the police force or the Home Office. So obviously, the first job I landed was in sales at Capital Radio.

I was never very good at sales but I was good with numbers and operations. So when in addition to my role I ended up doing a lot of post-campaign analysis, I was set up well for a conversation that I ended up having with a gentleman called Simon Foster. Simon was running the direct response department at Ogilvy & Mather and that was the start of my agency and media career.

What was that transition like? How quickly did you learn the media ropes?

I was 22 years old, in a brand-new job and essentially had to learn how to plan and buy media from scratch.

How did I learn the ropes? Well, there’s certainly no textbook. You’ve got to just get stuck in. There was a lot to absorb and take on. Having direct client interactions meant that I was thrown in the deep end and had to learn how to manage clients on the job. I did all the courses and took advantage of any learning opportunity that was available to me, but there’s no instruction manual.

The best and most effective thing I did, which taught me the most valuable lessons, was observing and listening to my boss.

How about today: what did you learn back then that sticks with you now?

The main thing I learnt back then and still swear by today is know your numbers – finance, account reporting, client budgets, media spends, whatever it might be.

Grasping this from the outset meant that I learnt about diligence. If you’re diligent with the detail then you can really think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what the possible outcomes are. This then means you’ll be set up correctly to sprinkle the right amount of risk and creativity into the process and create true excellence.

Give me one piece of advice from your media career.

If it isn’t fun, then don’t do it. And when I say ‘fun,’ I mean enjoyable, exciting and thought-provoking. If you’re not loving what you’re doing, then your client will immediately pick up that you’re just going through the motions. The outcome will reflect that and no one is a winner.

I’ve learnt that at the end of the day, it’s just media, don’t get so stressed about it.

Is it a career you’d recommend to a young family member or friend?

Yes absolutely, without a doubt. I had no intention of going into media, but I’m so glad that I did and have no regrets.

Why? Because it’s one of the few industries where you really have to apply all of your talents – thinking, mathematics, account management, technology, creativity, everything all in one role. The most exciting thing about it is that every day when you wake up, it’s truly going to be a different to the day before. Nothing is ever the same, which is really quite exciting.

Media Agency Culture Business Leadership

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Digitas UK

We are Digitas, a full service digital agency. Home of 400 diverse people united in the mission to use the power of strategy, data, technology, media and creativity to get our clients future ready. We get our clients future ready through our Experience Consulting, Products & Platforms, Customer Engagement and Digital Media capabilities. Underpinned by a culture of experimentation, making things happen and driving results. Part of Publicis Groupe, and a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Global Marketing Agencies, we’re proud to work with some of the world’s leading brands.

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