HEADLINER: One man’s drive makes TMD the Media Agency of the Year - Mark Craze is a bad loser. Is this key to his agency’s success? By Claire Beale

It’s not hard to understand Mark Craze. He’s not the sort of interviewee who demurs and riddles his way out of questions, who faffs around with ifs and maybes and attempts to ladle a liberal dose of gloss.

It’s not hard to understand Mark Craze. He’s not the sort of

interviewee who demurs and riddles his way out of questions, who faffs

around with ifs and maybes and attempts to ladle a liberal dose of

gloss.



Craze makes no apologies for being arguably the most straight-talking

and formidably driven man in media - fiercely determined, ambitious,

dedicated.



It’s so tangible that you smell it even before you’re close enough to

get a whiff of his aftershave. And if you’ve never got that close to the

guy, see Campaign last week where TMD Carat was voted our first Media

Agency of the Year. That’s what drive can do.



TMD put on pounds 54 million of new business in 1996, ended the year

with billings of around pounds 410 million and sealed its reputation as

one of the most professional media operations in the business. Not bad

for a company which, when Craze took over as managing director in 1991,

had billings nudging pounds 100 million and was famed as the zoo for

gorillas with calculators.



A few words on the Craze drive: ’I’ve got a very clear vision of where I

want TMD Carat to go, and if you’ve got a clear focus on where you’re

heading, it’s easier to get there’ (Craze himself); ’He’s tremendously

dedicated. His masterplan was to work extraordinarily hard until he

succeeded and only then to get more balance in his life’ (Marc Mendoza,

Craze’s cousin, friend and the media director of WCRS); ’If Mark wants

to do something, nothing gets in his way, though he’s more of a team

player now than he used to be. He’s even got a sense of humour’ (Ray

Kelly, Carat UK’s chief executive).



Why he’s so driven is a little harder to decipher. Ask Craze what

motivates him and the argument becomes a circular one. He wants TMD to

be the best, but the best will, perhaps, never be good enough. He enjoys

his job - ’I look forward to coming into work every day and I feel very

lucky about that’ - but adds that he enjoys it because of the

challenges: ’There are still improvements to be made to the product, and

I get a buzz out of driving towards those improvements.’



His capacity for application appears to have been inherited, at least in

part, from Mr Craze senior, a self-made man, a determined achiever and

successful entrepreneur from whom Craze junior learned a lot about

business acumen. And Craze is very clear that he is now a businessman

first: ’Even when I started out in media, I was very commercially aware,

I considered myself a businessman. Now I would feel quite comfortable

running most other sorts of businesses.’



Some observers may question the calibre of Craze as a media technician,

or his contribution to the industry at large, but these are not the

things that worry the man himself. If his talk is more about profit and

loss than the price of airtime, then he’s built up a solid and stable

team around him more than capable of discussing the day-to-day dynamics

of media minutiae.



’What I’ve been very good at,’ explains Craze, ’is making things

happen.



I get things done and I’ve got some extremely talented people around me

who complement my strengths.’ Ask Craze what his strengths are and don’t

expect any false modesty. In fact, no bullshit is something Craze prides

himself on. Other attributes he singles out are his absolute commitment,

his hunger for success and his refusal to accept second place. ’It’s

just nonsense, that stuff about it being more important to take part

than to win. I hate losing. I believe we can always be better,’ he

says.



If this sounds like a formidable taskmaster to work for, then you’re

probably right, but that’s another key to TMD’s success: you don’t last

long if you’re not up to it. ’I am very demanding,’ Craze admits. ’I

don’t like to be let down, let’s put it that way. I like to work with

people who are totally committed, and I don’t like bullshitters.’ Mind

you, he insists he’s not autocratic: ’I’m always looking for ideas from

others and I give people a tremendous amount of responsibility.’



It’s easy to see the 36-year-old Craze as a one-dimensional animal and,

in truth, in his role as TMD’s managing director he probably is. In the

office, nothing else matters. But, as Mendoza points out, that’s why

he’s so good for his clients: ’From a client’s point of view, Mark’s a

dream.



As a custodian of their money they couldn’t hope for anyone better.’



The inevitable question: ’Where next for Mark Craze and TMD?’ The

answer: ’I don’t see why we can’t reach 20 per cent of the media market.

The power of the media specialist is still very small compared with the

media owners as none of us account for 25 per cent of the market.



When there’s an MMC enquiry into TMD’s domination, then maybe I’ll be

satisfied we’ve done all we can.’



The Craze file

1982 Grandfield Rork Collins, graduate trainee

1985 TMD, planner/buyer

1987 Geers Gross, planner/buyer

1987 TMD, group head then associate director

1991 TMD, managing director



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