Gordon MacMillan hears why Tania Scotland will be welcomed at the
The name, Dr Scotland, has a nice ring to it, conjuring up warm and cosy
images of black-and-white 60s TV shows. But, while the Network’s new
director of non-traditional media has never been in a TV show, she did
come close to becoming a shrink.
‘It’s true,’ Tania Scotland says. A psychiatrist? ‘Absolutely.’ Okay, I
can see it now, and there is a kind of symmetry if you consider it for
more than a nano-second. Straight out of Manchester University for a
two-year stint as a TV planner at J. Walter Thompson, naturally you then
go to Middlesex Hospital medical school for psychiatric training.
Dr Scotland, though, was not to be. Medical training turned out to be a
two-and-a-half-week flash in the pan. ‘It was a twentysomething ‘oh my
God, what am I going to do with my life’ crisis. It was the usual
stuff.’ Scotland says now that it’s one of those things that you just
have go through. Of course it is, what else can you say?
Out of hospital, Scotland didn’t have to look around for very long, or
very far, for a new job - McCann-Erickson being handily positioned
opposite the Middlesex Hospital.
It seems that there is something special about Scotland - either that,
or I’ve been speaking to all the wrong people. Everybody in town (her
home town of Alnwick, Northumberland, that is) thinks she is a genius,
with words like creative, clever and charming tripping off the lips of
one and all. When asked if Scotland also has a media fan club, it seems
everyone who has ever met her wants to shout ‘ra ra ra, give us a T,
give us an A,’ etcetera.
At a push one media lad did admit that media owners thought she was a
bit strange, but then ruined this by swiftly adding that it was because
of this that most people liked her.
Possibly they mean ‘strange’ as in eccentric. Strange like enjoying
mountaineering and rock climbing. Strange like giving up smoking and
cutting down on drinking. It’s strange like good. Sitting in BMP DDB’s
offices you can sort of feel this strangeness, and see it in her tanned
healthy glow. It’s no wonder media owners like it.
However, when you look at Scotland you know without a doubt that she
cuts a mean swathe through anything standing in her path. She is by
birth a Northerner and plays a slightly affected line in Northernesque
affability. She says she’s naive, but the bottom line is, she takes no
This is one point most people agree on. ‘She can charm but she also has
a hard edge,’ says one, while another adds: ‘She is ruthlessly
So, is she altogether a good catch for the Network, then?
By all accounts, the Network’s managing director, Mandy Pooler, has been
talking to Scotland for around a year and the two are looking forward to
working with each other. And anyway, the fact that they’re both from the
North is sure to get the relationship off to a good start.
Her arrival is sure to be felt by the Network. The agency has some great
clients, such as Ford and Guinness but, as one source puts it: ‘Tania
will make a real impact. The Network is not the most exciting agency in
One of the elements that attracts Scotland to the job is that it will
give her the chance to break new ground. It will be a creative exercise
in all senses and it will be about looking for new opportunities and
turning them into finished products, whether this means developing
advertiser produced TV programmes, working on programme sponsorship or
This sounds like a tall order, but by all accounts Scotland will relish
the task. To begin with she will be hanging out for a spell with the
non-traditionalists at Ogilvy and Mather New York, learning everything
they know, and then, as she puts it, doing it better.
That kind of comment probably best sums up Scotland. She wants to make
an impact and offer something extra.
But perhaps the oddest thing about her new job is the title that puts
her in a club of one. When discussing the idea of titles with Pooler,
Scotland said that what she would really like to be called is Wing
Pooler has clearly saved Scotland from exposure to remarks such as
‘Scotland is a bit of an air head,’ or ‘Scotland’s up in the clouds’.
But after so many years in the shadow of BMP’s joint media directors,
Derek Morris and Paul Taylor, Scotland now has the chance to really
prove that she can fly her own plane.
The Scotland file
1980 JWT, assistant media planner (TV)
1985 Middlesex Hospital, medical student
1986 McCann-Erickson, media planner/buyer
1987 BMP DDB, media planner/buyer
1991 BMP, head of media management
1994 BMP, assistant media director
1996 The Network, head of non-traditional media