Collaboration is the catalyst for creating good work. Whether it’s relationships with your clients, reps, or coworkers, in an industry as dynamic and competitive as advertising, collaboration is a key driver of success.

Outside of the many talented Legends & Superstars, the best part of the Mediaweek Academy, was meeting others attending, most who were in a similar position, new(ish) to the industry, managing a team, navigating work life balance, the demands of deadlines and the fast paced nature of the industry. We had shared problems, and, in a space far away from the day-to-day, could work on solutions. The power of being given a space to share ideas and vulnerabilities was a gift. As a scholarship recipient (thank you IMAA and Mediaweek), traveling from Newcastle to Sydney for each session, I knew not to take this for granted.

Here are my key takeaways from the 2023 Mediaweek Academy.

There is no linear path in entering the advertising industry, or advancing within it.

Everyone we heard from had a different story on how they planned for, or stumbled into the industry. Each person had different reasons, but were connected with a thread of curiosity, hunger and passion.

It was a welcoming reminder that your journey in the advertising world is as unique as you are. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, but there’s no one-size-fits-all path in this industry, much like in life. Everyone has their own story, challenges, and successes. Focus on your growth, celebrate your victories, and learn from your experiences. Your journey is yours alone, and it’s what makes you stand out. Embrace the uniqueness of your path, and keep on keeping on!

We don’t really know how to listen. At least, I don’t.

Did you know there are 5 levels of listening? I sure didn’t until I was introduced to Oscar Trimboli and his work. The way he held space for people was incredible to see. Trimboli offered tangible advice, from switching off ‘self-view’ during video meetings (be honest, our eyes are glued to our own video), shutting down the tabs in your mind, and listening to understand, not to respond. As someone who is working on not interrupting others, this was a big one for me. Oscar also drew attention to the inherent bias that plagues our conversations, and that we need to remove the emotion or added meanings, saying that if your question is more than 8 words, it’s probably biased.

In the groupwork following, led by Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham, we used what we had learnt to note what we took from conversations, in words, body language and cues.

This session had me listening to his podcast for 3 hours on the train ride home to Newcastle, scribbling quotes throughout my journal, whilst filling out the Harvard cognitive bias assessment he directed me to.

His website hosts a range of resources including a listening quiz and a 90 day deep listening challenge. If you’re short on time, his podcast episodes offer short form excerpts and advice. 

It’s possible to do good in advertising

There are times, often when I’m explaining my job to someone (I’ve given up on this), that I feel guilty about the industry I’m in. Yes, those things you really hate, we put them there. Yes, I have watched The Social Dilemma. Yes, I’ve seen Black Mirror. There is the flip side to this though, where we can create opportunities to harness the power of creativity for a meaningful cause.

It’s people like Philippa Noliea-Tani from Wavemaker and her work on campaigns for the Kindness Factory, as well as change-maker Sunita Gloster advocating for DE&I and sustainability across the industry, that inspire others to amplify diverse voices and create a positive impact. Sunita spoke on Building Your Personal Brand, and illustrated the scenario of being recognised in a busy cafe while in the company of someone else. In this situation, she posed the question: When the person accompanying you asks, “Who was that?” What impression do you want to leave, and how do you want to be remembered?

Don’t waste time dwelling on your mistakes

We heard from people who had been in the industry for decades, and some who were just starting out. A common answer amongst everyone was that they had made mistakes (just like any human). The main focus was to not linger in the loneliness. Rebecca Drummond, from Wavemaker shared the advice to not “send up the distress flare too far on in the piece, to raise it early, admit your mistakes, learn and move on”.

Assume your assumptions are incorrect

One of my favourite sessions was on Inspiring Creativity with Legend Julia Zaetta from Harris Farm Mag, and Superstar Adam Ross from Coca Cola. Ross recalled podcasts, books and articles as if he had a list in front of him, whilst Julia was a wealth of knowledge on how to entertain your audience. Ross spoke about us being habitual creatures, and that decisions need to be effortless for us to engage. Brands need to consider what tensions exist that they can help solve.

In the workshop following, with Rowena Millward, we were tested on a range of different creative executions, and our thoughts on what was being advertised, using Rowena’s measurement of Purpose, Distinctiveness, Relevance and Context, which highlighted that the idea should be simple enough to understand without explanation.

The advertising industry is changing so rapidly, carving out time for continuous learning is crucial. The Mediaweek Academy was an incredible opportunity to do this, and tap into the wealth of knowledge, and creativity that is in the industry, as well as foster connections with innovative thinkers who are unafraid to challenge conventions. Taking these learnings to my team at Enigma not only contributed to my personal development but also encouraged collaboration across teams, creating spaces for the exchanging of ideas and challenging our assumptions to deliver the best work for our clients. Thank you to IMAA and Mediaweek for the opportunity, Rowena and Greg for running the sessions, all the panelists for their time and commitment to collaboration and sharing of knowledge, and to my wonderful team Sally Lawrence, Sophie Klecha, Victoria Pederson & Maddy Edmonds, for managing the day-to-day whilst I was at the Academy sessions each month.

I’d encourage you to sign up for the 2024 Academy if you want to be inspired!

Article by Brooke Tunbridge, media manager at Enigma. First appeared in Mediaweek December 2023.


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