HEADLINER: MindShare’s Mike is happy to stay well out of the limelight - Mike Wood doesn’t regard his new position as a step down, Anna Griffiths says

Mike Wood is feeling the worse for wear after entertaining a client until the early hours of the morning and his small frame looks rather fragile in the enormous grey boardroom which was once part of Frank Sinatra’s flat.

Mike Wood is feeling the worse for wear after entertaining a client

until the early hours of the morning and his small frame looks rather

fragile in the enormous grey boardroom which was once part of Frank

Sinatra’s flat.

Although there may be murmurs that his new job as deputy managing

director of the merged WPP media operation, MindShare, is a step back,

the former media director of JWT doesn’t appear to be at all put out. He

will report to Mandy Pooler, his counterpart at the Network, who has

been made managing director of MindShare (Campaign, last week).

In a quiet, undefensive tone, Wood explains: ’At the moment I head a

department and in that sense there isn’t a change. I will be part of

running a company as opposed to being part of managing a department,

which in itself is a sizeable step and an exciting one. It gives you

more control of your destiny because you are making bigger


But Wood is not a media ego (a rare phenomenon) and is happy to duck out

of the limelight. As one colleague puts it: ’Mike isn’t what you call

the world’s greatest showman. He has an extremely dry sense of humour

and is very pragmatic. He puts his head down and gets the job done, and

gives other people the opportunity to shine in the business.’ With the

high-profile leadership of Dominic Proctor and Pooler, insiders believe

Wood will be invaluable in getting the operational side of things sorted


He’s been at JWT since 1983 when he joined as a press buyer, working his

way through the ranks to become deputy media director in 1991. He has no

plans to move on just yet. ’I stay because it’s a great place to work,’

he explains. ’We have some fantastic clients to work with and great

plans. I don’t think you can say I will be here forever, I’m maybe only

halfway through my working life. The creation of MindShare is very

exciting and I’m hugely looking forward to being part of its growth and

development.’ If he chose to do something else, he says, he would work

for himself in a business outside advertising.

Wood and alcohol don’t mix, as he is more than willing to admit, which

may explain why he chooses not to work the media social circuit

particularly hard. ’I’m not like other people in the industry who spend

lots of time socialising after hours. My incapacity for alcohol doesn’t

allow me to prop up bars very much.’ Some clients find it rather

endearing, though.

According to Bill Barker, head of broadcast at JWT: ’He took a Nestle

client out for lunch to get to know him better. Both rolled back four

hours later and I’ve never seen anything so sycophantic in all my life.

They were saying things like, ’I really love you,’ and ’you’re a great


Despite such affectionate encounters, however, the past nine months has

been disappointing for JWT London in terms of media wins. Since January

JWT has failed to clock up any new business except in Europe with the

centralisation of Kellogg’s and, in March, it lost the pounds 11 million

Esso account. But Wood is optimistic about MindShare’s future. ’It has

been a difficult year for new business. The public speculation about the

creation of a new company has made it hard. But with MindShare next year

promises to be better.’

Wood lives in Bromley with his wife and two children, and occasionally

does strange things like cycling all the way to Paris. He fell into

media in 1978 after applying for a job as a copywriter at Allen Brady &

Marsh, lured by the vision of cream suits with large lapels and open-top

red sports cars.

’Halfway through describing what I thought made great ads, Terry Oakley

asked me what my arithmetic was like, which seemed a strange question

for someone who aspired to be David Abbott.’ He was taken on as a media


One of Wood’s responsibilities at MindShare will to blend the cultures

of JWT and the Network. ’We won’t go in one day and mess around with the

client team, it would be damaging to our business. However, from time to

time people need to have their jobs refreshed, moving on to new

accounts, so it makes sense that when we make this natural change we are

conscious of the benefits of integrating the two companies.’

And, should any problems arise, Wood will have a cost-saving


A colleague says: ’We once had a conversation about the media department

which was bursting at the seams. Mike suggested we give people smaller

desks. He’s very financially astute.’


1978: Media buyer, Allen Brady & Marsh

1981: Media buyer, Manton Woodyer Ketley and Partners

1983: Press buyer, J. Walter Thompson

1987: Assistant media director, JWT

1989: Appointed to JWT board

1991: Deputy media director, JWT, promoted to media director in 1994

1997: Appointed deputy managing director, MindShare.


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