My Media Week: Alan Hodge

This week Alan Hodge, global trading director at Maxus, is at the agency's conference as he narrowly avoids breaking his ankles and spots Sigourney Weaver.

Alan Hodge: global trading director at Maxus
Alan Hodge: global trading director at Maxus


My alarm sounds at 07:30 – an early start to the week even for me. Catch a cab to Heathrow to fly to Singapore, connecting on to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia for the Maxus, GroupM, and GroupM Trading Asia Pacific conferences. The Maxus conference kicks off first thing Tuesday morning, which will be effectively 2am for me.


Arrive in Singapore at 07.30 and try to make the most of a three-hour wait for my connecting flight. Grab a caffeine fix and work on one of the presentations I'm giving later in the week.

Bump into Stephen Allan, global chief executive MediaCom, at the gate, then Neil Stewart, Asia Pacific chief executive, Maxus, so enjoy a catch up with both.

Dinner is with Annie Hsiao, China chief executive, Maxus, before enjoying a beer in the M Bar, specially created for the conference, with Mark Patterson, Asia Pacific CEO GroupM, and Andrew Meaden, Asia Pacific head of trading for GroupM.


Up early, an hour in the gym and a five-mile run to start the day – in my dreams. In reality I fall out of bed, shower quickly, and grab a coffee en route to the conference room.

Conference kicks off with a great role-play buying and selling game – 'Rattlesnake Canyon'. It's very competitive and as global trading director I'm put under pressure by Neil Stewart, who says I get to keep my job if I win. My partner in the game is Christina Vacharanetr, chief executive, Maxus Thailand. I devise a good strategy and thankfully get to keep my job.

Lunch meeting with Andrew Meaden, to discuss our joint presentation to the Maxus delegates and also our session at the GroupM Trading conference next Sunday.

In the afternoon….more conference activity. Vote on great media solutions from around the region and discuss the role of relationship media in the process. Great work is shown from India, China and Australia to name but a few.

After that, I make calls to Maxus European markets, deal with emails then unwind with a swim.

Early evening is a quick beer with Kelly Clark, global Maxus chief executive, who has just arrived from America after 36 hours of travel, then it's off to a local seafood restaurant for a Maxus dinner. Sit next to Damian Duffy, chief executive, Maxus Vietnam – a very interesting market, I make a mental note to visit soon.

Entertainment involves local dancing and I'm invited (press-ganged) to have a go. Seems to involve avoiding having my ankles broken by bamboo poles. With nifty footwork, I survive, making a second mental note to decline pole-dancing invitations when next in Malaysia.

A final beer and catch up with Nick Binns, who I worked with at Mindshare in London. Having worked in China, he's now Mindshare Asia Pacific trading director, and we are joined by David Primmer MEC Asia Pacific trading director, who I last saw in Shanghai four weeks ago.


Consensus of the Maxus team is that it's unlikely my dancing will get me on 'Borneo’s Got Talent' – a bit harsh I feel.

Kelly Clark is up first so not a day to sleep in. See Mindshare's new global trading director Andy Roberts en route and arrange to catch up on Sunday’s presentation to GroupM Trading. Kelly updates us - Maxus is still the fastest growing media agency in the world.

During the coffee break I chat to Ajit Varghese, chief executive, Maxus India and the team. Agree to get out to India soon – hopefully in time to see some cricket in the IPL.

Receive notice we have progressed in a major pitch and will have to brief multiple global markets on what we need to do next as soon as I get the details. Skip the late afternoon session to do some preparation.

At 16:00, have a conference call with Kelly and one of our European markets regarding a new opportunity.

Over dinner, we're joined by Dominic Proctor, Mindshare global chief executive and David Byles, GroupM Latin America chief executive. Chat to David about the opening of the new Maxus offices in Argentina and Uruguay.

Back in my hotel room, I tidy up tomorrow's presentation and read up on the next stages of the pitch.


Up early. Problems with internet access and the phrase "IT is working on it" fill me with dread, but manage to complete the presentation. Spend the rest of the morning writing up and sending out pitch briefs.

Quick lunch with David Gaines, chief executive Maxus Australia, then back to the conference and a lively discussion on how Maxus should move forward. While listening, have to edit my presentation to cover some of the points raised.

Present my piece, which leads into Andrew Meaden of GroupM Trading. We both take questions and a healthy discussion follows, before Neil Stewart wraps up the conference.

Interesting comments on my presentation. Apparently a trading presentation with pictures and no numbers is unusual – all that time with the strategic planners was well spent.


Sleeping all night now as have conquered the jet lag. It's either that or I over-trained on the Sauvignon Blanc last night. Let's hope it’s the latter, or next week back in Europe is going to be difficult.

Mark Patterson kicks off the GroupM day with a look back to the 2006 Asia Pacific conference in Australia and a look forward to 2015 – off to Korea. I'm looking forward to meeting Kim Jong-il!

Focus going forward on the 4 T's: Trading, Talent, Technology... and something else starting with T. Great to see trading there!

Special guest Sigourney Weaver takes to the stage with Peter Tortorici, global head of GroupM Entertainment – always great company on the golf course (Peter, I mean, not Sigourney…never played golf with her).

Maxus, MEC, Mindshare, Mediacom and GroupM all present on great work. Maxus is clearly the best but all are pretty good: launching the Indonesian premier league, to 'China's Got Talent' (which got 500 million viewers) – we're treated to the winner of the show playing the piano live with his feet.

Awards dinner to close the week, although it's not over for me as Sunday and Monday we have the GroupM Trading conference and my week will run on to Wednesday morning when I land back at Heathrow.


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