The first time I spy Ed Ling, he’s kitted out in baggy trousers and
trainers and kicking a football around I-level’s open-plan office while
listening to some nice ambient techno.
OK, so it’s 6.30pm on a Friday, but this also suggests that I-level is
not your old-school media agency. It’s one of the new breed of dedicated
internet planning/buying companies where suits are a no-no and most of
the buyers are not a day over 25.
At the grand old age of 26, Ling has just been promoted from account
director on Motley Fool, Peoplesound, Yell and Smile, to media manager,
where he’ll oversee the output of 21 planners and buyers and delve into
other platforms for clients, such as WAP and digital TV.
It’s a long way from his first job, spot buying for MediaVest’s client
Procter & Gamble. The job was deadly boring but come 5.30pm Ling was
off, distributing flyers for the jazz funk club he was running.
The big break came when Ling, a keen snowboarder, suggested to the
planning director of Scottish Courage that Foster’s Ice should sponsor a
boarding contest in Covent Garden. The director loved the idea and took
Ling under his wing.
Two years ago he joined I-level as the agency’s first employee and has
witnessed online media budgets soar and working hours lengthen. ’I’ve
never worked so hard in my life,’ he complains.
If the 8.30am to 8.30pm wasn’t enough, Ling also has a new-media
girlfriend (although he won’t reveal her identity), and shares a flat in
sunny Dalston with MediaVest’s head of new media Richard Townsend.
The pair frequently fight about internet industry issues over a Friday
But when Ling gets thoroughly sick of click-through rates and page
impressions, he flings on one of his 700 Detroit techno records and
pisses off the neighbours, or grabs his board and hits the slopes.
He and Townsend even looked into doing something totally off the
new-media track: opening a Japanese noodle bar in Leeds.
It would take Ling one step closer to his dream of becoming the ginger
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (posh TV chef), but the pair decided it was
too pricey, ’although the plans are still there,’ he says with a gleam
in his eye.
Good after-sales service
Arrogance without substance
Reps who promise too much