My Media Week: Natalie Bell, Manning Gottlieb OMD
A view from Hayley Hayes

My Media Week: Natalie Bell, Manning Gottlieb OMD

Natalie Bell, managing director at Manning Gottlieb OMD, downloads the tech trends fresh from SXSW, attempts to define the indefinable (her agency culture), and downs a Dirty Chai.


Following a week skiing in Chamonix and an extra-long Easter weekend, it once again becomes evident that I am not a morning person.  The truth is I’ve always done my best work in the evenings, although I'm making a concerted effort to change my ways. I reach for the snooze button but this time my fail-safe alarm clock kicks in - my gorgeous two-year-old son Harrison comes charging in. 

I use my commute to read through emails, catch up on news via Twitter and plan the upcoming week. Already I can see my diary isn’t feasible, but that’s what happens with five days condensed into four! I grab my trusty Starbucks – an off-menu special called a Dirty Chai. I’ve no idea how I discovered it but the knowing look when I order always makes me smile. I'm in a secret coffee club.

The morning kicks off catching up with two of our senior team – Paul Knight, our chief operating officer and Clare Peters, our head of planning. There is a lot to catch up on – a week is a long time in our industry and this year seems to be moving faster than ever.

My afternoon is spent with Sony Music, at their rather cool offices in High Street Kensington. The global pitch last year was long and tough for those involved, so it’s always a joy to recap on the great work we have produced and most importantly to look ahead to what we can achieve together this year. Oh, and Zayn Malik's album releases this Friday which is a pretty big deal: with global success already, 2016 is set to be his year.


The morning is spent with our head of talent, as I’m currently recruiting for a couple of big roles. It’s always incredibly interesting looking at the available prospects in our industry, however, it remains a tricky balance finding someone that possesses both the right skills and the perfect attitude to fit into our culture.  I truly believe there's something special about our culture here at MG OMD, a magic ingredient that's hard to define but that differentiates us from others. 

At lunchtime I sit in on a session held by our head of tech innovation, Caroline. Having just returned from this year’s epic SXSW, she is taking the agency through the key trends and learnings. I just love this stuff and was disappointed not to get out there for myself so it’s great to hear how Caroline has already started to apply these to our client work. She takes us through her view on the three key trends of New Realities, Smart Systems and Connected Objects. Fascinating and exciting. 

The afternoon is spent with my colleagues at Drum, the OMG UK content agency. I’ll confess that I’m more strategic than I am creative, so it’s fun to be immersed in such different styles of thinking. 


The morning is spent with some of our data and tech team, and wider Annalect colleagues as we explore a new approach to customer journey planning. Our planning approach is constantly evolving and it’s important we harness every new opportunity that we can; it’s never a finished piece. It’s a great session and I’m excited to see it all scoped further.

Last year we created a two-day event in partnership with Google’s Magic Academy for some of our brightest talent, to look at how we unlock creativity in our daily work. It’s more than just being creative, and feeds into our culture overall so I was really pleased to spend the last meeting of the day with one of the teams from that training, who have come up with an incredible initiative for the agency. Our head of people and culture, Amy Robbins, and I could not be more excited about their idea. We are a rapidly growing agency and I believe they have come up with something that will retain that magic of our culture as we continue to grow further. I leave the office grinning from ear-to-ear at how great it is and can’t wait for it to launch next month.


It’s a very busy Friday for me and today is an extra early start with the elusive snooze button remaining untouched. I get the 6.30am train for Bracknell to see our lovely clients at Waitrose, to discuss upcoming campaigns. Always a delight given that I couldn’t love the brand more…I’m not a foodie per se but am a loyal Waitrose customer and it holds a special place in my heart.

I get back to the office for lunch and just manage to squeeze in a quick bite to eat with the lovely Ed Couchman, which may have included a small glass of wine to congratulate him on his recent promotion. We do well to go through a wealth of key initiatives, a friendly catch up and several plates of tapas within the hour. Who said the media lunch was dead? For full disclosure though, the last time we shared a glass of wine we were at MWC in Barcelona and it finished at a slightly rowdier 5am.

My last stop of the day is at Rapp’s offices in Bankside where I join the agency and client teams that work on Virgin Media. The VM acquisition team run regular awards events to reward the great work that the teams collectively deliver, and I’m presenting the winners alongside fellow judges from VM and Rapp. It’s a brilliant initiative and a very positive note to end the week on.

I get a few minutes in the lovely sunshine on the South Bank before running to catch my train to get back for the childminder.

The weather's due to be nice this weekend so I look forward to family time in the sun with my husband and son. And Zayn has smashed it at number one, so there's even more reason to smile.


Age: 37
Favourite media: WhatsApp, Netflix, Facebook.
My biggest inspiration: My nan. One hell of a lady.
Dream job: To work on the crew of any David Attenborough series.
Not a lot of people know this about me: I spent far too much of my youth at Fratton Park.