MEDIA HEADLINER: TMD’s nearly man succumbs to MindShare blandishments - Simon Rees has grabbed the chance to show off his talents, Claire Beale says

It’s been one of the longest foreplays the industry can remember but when climax was finally reached last week, the earth barely moved.

It’s been one of the longest foreplays the industry can remember

but when climax was finally reached last week, the earth barely

moved.



The fact that Mandy Pooler had been doing some serious and none-too

discreet flirting with Simon Rees was about as surprising as finding

that George Michael is gay.



But now that love has been declared, and when Rees can get his butt out

of the garden, the two will set up home down on the Strand with Reesy

taking over as MindShare’s managing director (Campaign, 17 April).



MindShare’s second managing director, in fact. The first - Pooler

herself - is stepping up to chief executive to make way for the new boy,

and the agency hasn’t even opened its doors yet. Still, our Rees was

such a catch, ’the only person we ever talked to about the job,’ Pooler

reports.



Mind you, wily Pooler had people fooled for a while over quite what job

she was talking to Rees about. With MindShare desperate for a

heavyweight broadcast director and Rees, by all accounts, one of the

best in the business, it seemed a done deal. Given that the fledgling

MindShare was already creakingly top heavy with general management -

including Mike Wood as deputy managing director and Bill Kinlay as

commercial director - the last thing it needed, apparently, was another

chief.



Rees, though, has been ripe for the picking for a while now. He’s been

butting his head against Mark Craze’s Gucci loafers on the TMD career

ladder for years. ’I’d been very keen to do something for a while, but

it had to be the right something,’ Rees admits. A fine man manager, a

damn good negotiator, ’very competitive but a nice guy too,’ Craze

himself says. Give this man a top job.



Observers may wonder why you’d buy Alan Shearer and play him in goal,

but Rees clearly wasn’t going to be satisfied with a step back into the

trading box. If Pooler wanted him, it would have to be as top dog. She

wanted him, and it’s clear why.



Rees’s experience as a negotiator will inject some tangible and

much-needed trading credentials to the MindShare operation. He brings

with him a crucial understanding of the dynamics of a large and

extremely successful media agency, and his stature in the industry will

beef up the calibre of the MindShare line-up.



’My role is to be a foil to Mandy,’ Rees explains. ’Her reputation is in

planning, not necessarily in business. I’m going to bring a business

culture and a firm sense of reality to bear. This is not going to be a

business built on hype.’



Pooler will manage the relationship with MindShare’s sister creative

agencies, Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson, and senior clients

while Rees will concentrate on managing the day-to-day operations. He

promises some changes once he’s on board and is determined to eradicate

the usual merger politics, but will keep an open mind on staff and

positions. ’This business is brilliant at talking people up or down

depending on personal prejudices,’ he says. ’But I’m going to turn a

deaf ear to that and stay objective.’



And it’s Rees’s objectivity - the very fact that he is a stranger in the

WPP kingdom - that makes his appointment such a sound one.



Pooler admits that MindShare needs to build a new team and a new

culture.



’Simon’s neutrality is important,’ she explains. His fresh face gives

MindShare a new identity - it is no longer simply a straightforward

merger of JWT’s media department and the Network. Just as well. Such a

merger could be rather like tying two lame ducks together to enter a

three-legged race. The whole point of MindShare is to create a bigger,

brighter and more intelligent media brand.



As Rees sees it, ’MindShare needs to develop its own distinctive

personality which can move clients’ perception of it to a new level.

That means capitalising on our scale, but also developing areas such as

research and consumer insight, with a solid bedrock of buying and

planning.’



But Rees knows there’s work to be done. His views on JWT media offering

and the Network from the pinnacled perspective of TMD were, he says,

non-existent. ’I didn’t think about them, didn’t see them as

competition.



They were large organisations with tremendous history. But history isn’t

the future.’



The future is, however, extremely bright. ’The more I think about it,

the more excited I get. There’s a tremendous client list here, and a

great proposition. We’re seeing the beginning of a new era in media and

it’s all set up beautifully. It can still be buggered up, but I’m going

to make sure that doesn’t happen at MindShare.’





THE REES FILE

1978: D’Arcy MacManus Masius, media assistant

1981: Colman & Partners, media planner/buyer

1986: TMD, senior TV buyer 1989 TMD, broadcast director

1995: TMD, deputy managing director

1998: MindShare, managing director



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