We can all learn from AA's Media Business Course
A view from Matt Teeman

We can all learn from AA's Media Business Course

When I went on the Advertising Association's Media Business Course in 1992, as a young sales executive at Mirror Group, I knew it was a special experience to go on this three-and-a-half-day programme and be mentored by some of the elite of British advertising.

But it is only now, two decades later, having returned as a member of the organising committee for the past three years and being part of a team mentoring today’s rising stars, that I can say just what a gem of an event it is.

For those who don’t know – and quite a few senior people haven’t heard of it – the MBC takes place every November. This year’s event, which ended last Saturday at The Grand in Brighton, was the 52nd and sold out in record time.

It is chiefly for media agencies, owners and clients who pay for their best young talent – approximately 120 people aged mainly in their twenties – to learn and network from some of the best in the business, who give their time for free. What makes the course unique is that it is the only event about media planning that is run by the industry, for the industry.

Delegates are given a brief – this year, it was for easyJet – and divided into syndicates. During the day, they listen to industry leaders and then apply what they have learned at night – quite often, well into the night.

Day one is about planning, day two about media and day three about creativity and the importance of an idea. The pitches are held on Friday evening and presented to the judges, led by the Twitter planning director, David Wilding. The winner is decided on Saturday.

To gauge the event, look at the inspirational speaker list drawn up by the committee, led by its joint chairs, Steve Hatch and Pippa Glucklich. 

We had James Murphy and Craig Inglis giving a joint masterclass on John Lewis, Dave Trott on creativity, Rory Sutherland on planning and Nick Hurrell on presentation, as well as legends such as Stephen Miron and Richard Eyre, to name just a few.

And it is not only the young delegates who were fascinated; it is a superb learning experience for senior people to hear their peers speak too.

I was part of the winning syndicate in 1992 and it had a lasting impact. Many others who went on the course over the years feel the same way. And special credit must go to Rosemary Michael, who has organised the MBC since it began.

If there is a key to its success amid the digital disruption facing our industry, it is that the MBC has consistently embraced change and reflected it each year in the course.

Matt Teeman is a member of the Advertising Association’s Media Business Course committee and former commercial director of Bloomberg Media EMEA