Ita Murphy's reputation as a tough negotiator goes before her -some people find her intimidating. But then, she learned all about agency intimidation while repping for Carlton's Woman's World magazine.
'The BMP boys would seat us sales girls on a low sofa - the 'crotch sofa' - and then look up your dress to ogle your drawers. And the guys at TMD would try to make you cry,' she recalls.
As a result of such experiences, Murphy has learned to treat sales folk with more respect.
'These agency people don't realise that media owners are their best PR machine and can be instrumental in getting them their next job,' she points out.
Having become bored with sales early on - she found it too narrow - Murphy joined Carat as a planner/buyer. Now, as media director at Initiative, she is responsible for more than pounds 100 million of billings from the likes of Van den Bergh, LVMH, Mobil Oil, Allianz/Tefal and Timberland.
A tough and uncompromising negotiator, she admits she is not always impressed with the people on the other side of the table.
'Some individuals are so passionate and committed to their brands, it's really quite inspiring. I don't give any buying signals away but I know I've got to have their titles on my schedule.
'Then there are the others who must be so afraid of me they don't bother coming back. I have to chase them for a proposal and when it arrives it bears no resemblance to what was discussed. It's so unprofessional,' she complains.
Murphy reveals that preparation and devotion to detail give her the edge. She is amazed at how unprepared even senior sales people can be when they arrive at a meeting.
'But it's great when you're up against somebody experienced who can cut through the crap and get to the nub of the argument. Then we can have a good row about it,' she enthuses.
Murphy's role on the LVMH account has thrust her into the air-kissing Ab Fab world of glossy fashion and beauty magazines. But the experience has not changed her in the slightest.
'It's been fun seeing all these people who are obsessed by what others are wearing. But it's all a bit alien to me,' she admits.
- Red wine
- Lasting friendships
- Long hair
- Cold sores