Published Thursday, April 30, 2015




Life is a crazy, fast moving roller coaster with few opportunities to slow down, step off and to think……

Take my life, one minute ( 1964) I am a spotty faced mod riding my chrome embellished scooter to London to work for leading ad agency, Alfred Pemberton, to conduct my duties as a £6 a week post boy. Next minute I am heading off to Deal on the sunny Kent coast to walk my dogs and to chew the cud with the local Zimmer crew, that is until the grim reaper decides he needs a new drinking partner…I have declined all his offers to date!!


Was it all worthwhile, did I take the right path to conscious enlightenment, did I contribute to the wellbeing of mankind, did I foster a green world and fight global warming…..not sure I did but I do know I enjoyed my life, made many great friends, had a few fights along the way, invested vast sums of hard earned cash in local “establishments” and I guess helped fill the coffers of the Inland Revenue.


On reflection I could have worked harder and achieved more and I could have chosen better partners and spotted a few demons before they consumed me but overall I am happy with the way things panned out and will go to the firey pits with few regrets and a stash of great memories……”thinks” coach trips to the Varsity match, launching MJP in New York and Stockholm, beating the Big Boys into second place in global pitches and meeting Chris Stevens.


And boy has my life changed since I moved to Deal. One day I am getting up at 6am to fly off to yet another crucial new bizz meeting in Paris or Berlin or am heading to the gym for my 7am workout. Next minute I am being woken at 8am by one or both of the hounds who have decided it is time to head to the beach for their morning exercise.


Between the dog walks and the evening trip to the local ale house there have been new skills to be learnt, decorating, plumbing, tiling, wall pointing and how to nurture the World’s hottest chillis in my recently erected green house. So, so different from those heady days of back to back conference calls, team meetings, forecasting, pitches and those endless media presentations and oops don’t forget the arm wrestling with the finance director. So what do I miss, what do I NOT miss….I do miss the challenge of running a successful business, the excitement of a pitch, the comrarderie of the team, the travel and the many new faces that are met on the way. What I do NOT miss are the politics, the back stabbing, the deadlines that never existed, the lack of integrity and the utter bullshit that can so often engulf the modern media business.

Wow those last words sound a little bitter, I guess retirement gives me more time to reflect on both the good the bad and sometimes the ugly. BUT I hasten to add there are many great, talented and hard working people in the business, in particular the youngsters today who work under more pressure for longer hours than I ever dreamt of doing but with little time for the grand ole media lunches we so often enjoyed.

I am disturbed by what appears to be an ever increasing reliance by the media agencies on what we used to call “unearned income”. In other words income not directly derived from a client’s contracted fees. In the old days the emerging media agencies in the UK combined clients billings with given publishers to create margin enhancement programmes, great until the clients wised up!! And in France The Loi Sapin went a long way to clearing up the media buying business, one that had for so many years been controlled largely by one man’s little black book.

Today under financial pressure that has so often been created  by  having taken on a client’s business at totally unrealistic terms (lots of blame here on the procurement gurus) agencies, spearheaded by those oddly named Trading Directors seek ever more creative ways to develop income streams from billings outside of those contractually agreed to. Meanwhile the online sector fuels mammoth margins for the agencies at the expense of both clients and the media owners.

 I see so many things happening that echo the disaster that hit the banking world. Maybe we are heading to a meltdown, we are certainly ready for a complete re-assessment of how the business is currently funded and run. Clients need accountability and transparency but should be willing to pay correctly for a professional service. Fees should reflect the service that is delivered but should be open and on the table not lurking behind the toilet door.

The big question is who will be first to step forward to drive the brave new world, will it be client, agency or publisher. Well before you ask it is not me who is going to raise his head above the parapet and be shot. I have a fab new sea fishing rod and reel, a gift from Greg Corbett when I retired, I start lessons shortly, all very exciting, sea bass are a local speciality and a favourite dish in the Jarvis kitchen.

As a foot note today (28/04) Google stepped forward with a pledge to give Euro150 million to European news publishers and journalism focussed start -ups over the next 3 years …a noble offer indeed from Google but my gut says beware the hand that gives…….


Enough said…dogs are barking time for the beach……Jarvo (rtd)

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