My Media Week: Toby Gunton

This week, Toby Gunton, head of innovation at OMD, develops "ideas beyond media", competes with Idris Elba and concedes that media lunches are the best in adland.

Toby Gunton: head of innovation at OMD
Toby Gunton: head of innovation at OMD


Week 31 of my life in media starts early so I can get in to town for an Advertising Week talk from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. Having spent the last 17 years at creative and digital agencies, I still feel like the media new boy, although I can already categorically say that the lunches in media are better.

It seems rare at the moment to be heading into a week that isn't dominated by a pitch, often off the back of a weekend in the office. But this week is back to a normality of sorts. (I can also categorically say that media pitches have a lot more graphs and a lot less pictures than creative pitches, though I am single-handedly trying to reverse that trend).

Next up is a meeting at PHD for our regular Omnicom Media Group Innovation Team get-together. Basically a bunch of very clever people (I do of course include myself in that) from across OMG exchanging case studies, comparing approaches, sharing interesting tech and media contacts, and driving the agenda for innovation across the group. It's hard not to be inspired.

At midday I've got an hour with Ed Thomas, head of product at Accuen, our programmatic offer. Ed has a brain the size of a planet and it's great to hear his view on guaranteed programmatic and just who does and doesn't stand to benefit.

The day ends back at the office for a catch-up with the Channel 4 team on a campaign we're planning, before a taxi to Portman Square for drinks with AOL.


Back on my normal morning train with its eclectic group of commuters. We're unusual in that we all actually talk to each other, in fact we're a noisy bunch and over the last few years have become good friends as well as commuting companions.

I've lived in Tring for the last ten years, somewhere the local estate agents describe as a "small market town nestled in the Chilterns".  It's a 40-minute train journey from Euston and frankly I wouldn't move back into London for anything.

First up this morning is a meeting with Paul Guerrieria from Google. We're running a big OMD event based on our 'Future of Britain' research, and we're discussing potential speakers from Google and their involvement.

Straight into the second meeting of the day with Lee Gibson from CBS. I'm getting increasingly excited about DOOH, especially after our recent work for Pepsi Max's 'Unbelievable' campaign, so it's an interesting session.

The rest of the day is pretty much tied to my desk working on a presentation for Channel 4 and preparing for my Advertising Week panel slot.

The day ends with a meeting with one of our SSE clients to discuss a workshop we're running. We’ve created a new framework for developing ideas beyond media and SSE is one of our first clients to take advantage of our new approach.


Another early start. It's my turn on an Ad Week stage this morning.

The subject is Future Media. Clearly no one has told them it's only week 31 in media for me. Or perhaps it's the different perspective this gives me that they're after. Let's hope so.

The session is moderated by the charming Abba Newbery, head of strategy at News UK. And sharing their opinions are Robert Horler, CEO of Dentsu Aegis, Josh Krichefski, COO of Mediacom and Paul Mead, MD of VCCP Media.

Having realised that Idris Elba is on at the same time as us I start to feel less nervous. As eloquent and compelling as I am, I have a suspicion that most of adland will be heading to his talk.

Lunch is with Jon Bloc from ITV. We've been meaning to get together for a while and finally I get a chance to hear about what he's up to. Jon heads up new digital formats and by the time we've had lunch, my head is already full of thoughts on how we can take full advantage of some of what he has planned.

The afternoon is spent at Channel 4 meeting up with the guys at 4 Creative before we present the campaign for a new show to the marketing team. There are more Advertising Week drinks to go to, but I decide I'm more tempted by dinner with my family and head for home.


I start the day as usual. Breakfast with my amazing wife, known to many as Mrs G, and two boys (ten and 12). I suppose I could join a gym for early workouts but I'd rather spend the start of the day with my family. Well, that's my excuse.

The morning is spent back at Bafta for Advertising Week sessions. First up is an hour and half in the London Native Ad Forum, followed by User Experience and Advertising.

Lunch is a quick catch-up with Rian Shah and Hamid Habib, OMD's managing partners for strategy. They complement each other perfectly and make an unbeatable team. More importantly, they also happen to make very good lunch companions.

Back to the office for a wider meeting with the guys running our social offering. We've got big plans and there's a lot to get busy with.

Finally, a quick meeting with PHD to share our approach on developing ideas beyond media, before it's time to head off to Koko for the Advertising Week wrap party and the promise of Katy B.


Friday is mainly about getting all the work done I would be doing next week because I'm off to Italy. Pretty much tied to the desk all day.

I have an hour in for a meeting with the eye-wateringly smart Jenny Bullis, managing director of Annalect. A chance to talk big data. And believe me, no one has a better grip on it than Jenny.

At midday I'm meeting with Steve Payne and James Phipps from AOL. I'm also trying to rope in his help with an event we have planned. Then after a quick sandwich, it's back to Channel 4 for a briefing.

Finally, it's the end of the day. Out of office set, handover notes written.

And relax. The 40-minute train journey gives me just enough time to decompress before getting home to help my wife pack for our week away.

Age: 41
Favourite media: Getting surprisingly excited about digital out of home
My biggest inspiration: Sean Parker. Revolutionise an industry, own a chunk of Facebook, live like a rock star and get played by Justin Timberlake in a film.
Dream job: Editor of Wired. But the current one does a very good job!
Not a lot of people know this about me... I used to work as a Formula 1 journalist.


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