Karen Stacey and David Wilding
Karen Stacey and David Wilding
A view from Karen Stacey and David Wilding

The joy of the Media Business Course: an antidote to our industry’s talent crisis

The co-chairs of the MBC explain the unique importance of the ad industry’s annual media leadership course for rising talent ahead of its return in-person in July.

The Media Business Course is back with a bang. It returns this July with a renewed focus on talent with four to five years’ industry experience and the continued aim of imparting all the skills, wisdom and hands-on craft needed to equip our next generation of media planners.

The joy of co-chairing the Advertising Association’s Media Business Course, fondly known as MBC, will be even greater than previous years. We are delighted it will be making its long-awaited return to the Grand Hotel in Brighton – and in the summer this year (so bring your flip-flops).

Over the course of three days, the brightest of our media practitioners will be divided into syndicates to tackle a challenging client brief: creating a full media strategy before pitching against each other to become the coveted MBC winners.

There is no better place to hone the tricks of the trade – and MBC has been delivering this transformative learning experience since 1964. As ever we are lucky to have an excellent speaker line-up to shepherd, challenge and motivate our delegates through the process.

Joining us from the agency world, we are pleased to announce Karen Blackett, country manager of WPP and UK chief executive of Group M; Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy, and Nick Hurrell, chairman of George & Dragon.

We know MBC provides an opportunity like no other for media planning talent to gain exposure to prominent senior industry leaders and this year is no different.

From the media owner landscape, we have Davina Barker, commercial director of Digital Cinema Media; Sally Keane, head of enterprise sales, Northern Europe, at Spotify; Trevor Johnson, head of marketing, GBS, Europe, at TikTok; Simon Daglish, deputy managing director, commercial ITV; and more speakers to be announced over the coming weeks.

Improve inclusion

While the essence of the course will remain the same, as MBC returns we have adapted its focus to meet our current talent needs. Recent years have seen us more aware than ever of the make-up and needs of our industry, but still in search of the tools to make progress on where we want to be. The All In Census, the first and largest inclusion survey of advertising’s workforce from the AA, IPA and ISBA, has provided the data and actions for us to assess and change our current landscape.  

The All In Census showed that just 1% of C-suite leaders are black. Moreover, 27% of Asian respondents reported they are likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion. And those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are significantly more likely to leave the industry – that is 21% compared with just 12% industry average.

We need to support our existing talent to help them feel they belong in our industry, have the skills to progress in their chosen careers, and make it right up to the top.

The All In Census is just one of the reasons why, for the first time, the Advertising Association is aiming MBC at talent with four to five years’ industry experience. It is also being reshaped by the ongoing work to rebuild public trust in advertising and the talent crisis facing our industry.

Attracting talent

Talent retention is at the top of any agency leader’s agenda. After the disruption of Covid-19, working from home, and adapting to continually shifting digital markets, it is no surprise that the skills once held by planners deserve an invigoration and boost. As every leader knows well, the importance of investing in media planning talent will pay dividends.

We have seen tremendous support from companies signing up to the course, showing their commitment to investing in their talent. If you commit to sending your delegates, they will be joining colleagues from The Guardian, Meta, Talon Outdoor, Snap, ITV, Clear Channel, Astus, DMG Media, Digital Cinema Media, IPG Mediabrands, dentsu, PAMCo, Havas, Tesco, Google and YouTube. And if you’re quick, you can nab an early-bird rate before the end of April.

Finally, MBC wouldn’t be able to teach the craft of media planning without a brilliant brief for our delegates to tackle. Past courses have seen briefs from the likes of Yorkshire Tea, Domino’s and easyJet. If you are a brand and you have a challenging comms problem to solve, please make your submissions via the form here.

We cannot wait to get back together in-person with the best in the industry to teach the craft of media planning to our future leaders. We hope you can join us.

The Advertising Association’s Media Business Course takes place from 5-8 July at the Grand Hotel in Brighton and delegate registration is open here. Campaign is a media partner for the MBC. Karen Stacey, the chief executive of Digital Cinema Media, and David Wilding, director of planning at Twitter, are co-chairs of the event.