My Media Week: Sam Finlay
A view from Hayley Hayes

My Media Week: Sam Finlay

This week, Sam Finlay, the managing director at Time Inc UK Advertising, breakfasts with Unilever’s Keith Weed, learns that Time Inc has acquired Specific Media and Myspace owner Viant and avoids West Ham fans.


Up at 5.45am and out the house by 6.30am. Having been on a very productive roadshow to the Manchester offices of the major agencies last week, I’m looking forward to a full week at the Blue Fin to catch up. I grab a coffee and arrive at 7.30am to a very different looking sales floor; we completed our office move over the weekend and the new client and agency teams created in our recent restructure now sit alongside each other. 

At 11am Ian Dowds, the new chief executive of UKOM, comes in and successfully reinforces the proposition for the industry online audience measurement body. We have a good discussion about industry standards and challenges in such a complex market.

At 2pm I briefly meet with our chief executive, Marcus Rich, to discuss a pending acquisition from the US team and its potential for us in the UK, before heading off for our regular Monday ad leadership meeting. Pleasingly, trading shows a strong start to 2016.

The final meeting of the day is with Matt Harrington, the brand partnerships director at Abbott Mead Vickers/BBDO, where we agree there’s real potential in working together across genuine editorial integration and content creation for his clients.

On my journey home I catch up on my emails and it’s good to see that my guests for the NME Awards have accepted. They are the perfect mix of important clients who are also great fun to be with – it promises to be another excellent event.

I arrive home to a house that looks like we’ve been burgled: my six-year-old daughter Ruby has had a playdate and my 11-year-old son Joel has turned the landing into a cricket pitch – chaos.

Tuesday (Pancake Day)

Bakerloo Line disruption means I’m late for my first meeting – not a great start to the day.  At 8am I catch up with Ralph from our M&A team; we are working towards creating an investment pitch for an acquisition which, if we can land, would deliver a step change in our digital scale.

At 9am, I join other members of our Executive team for breakfast with Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer of Unilever, in our dining room overlooking the City. Afterwards, Keith talks to a packed house in our theatre, where he shares Unilever’s marketing and communications global strategy in a refreshingly honest and open way.

At 3pm, Matt Teeman introduces me to Amit Bohensky and his company called Zoomd. Their proposition is simple and potentially very useful in delivering against our digital challenges by creating new real estate from on-site search. We arrange a follow up with a commitment to test before the end of the quarter. Amit’s insistence on taking a selfie with me at the end of the meeting is certainly different! 

I leave at 6.30pm to rush home to snaffle some pancakes and watch the mighty Liverpool’s youth players give a football lesson to West Ham’s first team. As it turns out, Joel had eaten all the pancakes and I spent most of the game having to peer over the top of an impromptu wigwam Ruby has created in the middle of the front room. Liverpool lose in extra time but I’m cheered by the fact my bet with Hammers fan Rob Freeman was Liverpool to win or draw after 90-minutes.


No train trouble this morning and I’m looking forward to a fairly clear day catching up on actions, creating the investment pitch presentation and importantly avoiding West Ham fans.

I meet up with Tracey, our resourcing manager, to review candidates she has sourced for a senior role in our client team. It’s a good list and we settle on the three best to take forward for initial meetings.

I bump into Sandy Gale, the publishing director on the Lifestyle group (and a West Ham season ticket holder!) She tells me how much West Ham deserved the win. I leave thinking we watched different matches…


I get in early for a meeting with Lisa Batty our marketing director, Advertising and we agree a jam-packed roadmap of activity for this year. Lisa leaves me feeling hugely optimistic about how we will convey the scale and range of opportunities at Time Inc. UK to our customers.

At 10.30am Sean Erjavec and Patrick Engelhart come in to present Simplyreach and its tools, which will help us analyse and monetise our branded content offering. We agree to set up a Skype call with our digital tech team to discuss a test.

At midday news breaks that Time Inc. has acquired Viant, the owners of Myspace and Specific Media. This is a potentially a really exciting acquisition for us and our data strategy. I grab five-minutes with my senior team to brief them, before getting everyone together on the sales floor for an impromptu stand-up to relay the news.

Later that afternoon I get Mark Wright, the vice president of sales in the Viant London office, on the phone to reintroduce myself, having only met once before. We agree to catch up next week.


I pick up a copy of NME at Oxford Street Tube on my way to a breakfast meeting. NME was the first magazine I worked on when I joined and it’s amazing to see what the team has achieved since it went to a freemium model. Its first ABC of 307,000, with high hand-to-hand distribution, is a fantastic result.

I have a very enjoyable breakfast with Matt Court from Airport Media, who updates me on everything that’s happening in OOH media. I leave both educated and relieved that I managed to get away without any football chat – Matt is another huge West Ham fan.

I get back in time to sit on a digital trends presentation led by Henry Rowe from FaR Partners where we Q&A all sorts of topics ranging from content distribution to data segmentation. 

At lunchtime I meet up for a bite to eat with Mark Jarvis, owner of the agency the7Stars. It’s amazing to see how he has grown the business to the biggest independent agency in the UK in just 10 years. We discuss the rapid transformation at Time Inc. UK and he gives me some very sound advice on how to keep the momentum of success going.

It’s been quite a week but another where I have learnt a huge amount, which is what keeps it so interesting.

I get home and immerse myself in indoor cricket, wigwam building and now 3D drawing? If you haven’t tried it – it’s messy!

The Lowdown

Age: 43
Favourite media: Anything sport related that doesn't involve Andy Gray or Alan Smith commentating
My biggest inspiration: My dad, his mantra was work hard play hard but make sure it's in that order and life is not a dress rehearsal 
Dream job: England cricket team manager, a few gentle warm ups with the team before lounging around for the rest of the time whilst travelling the world and lots of days off to play golf
One thing not a lot of people know: I'm part Icelandic in heritage. If you have never been you should - but one piece of advice: always ask what it is your being served to eat. There's nothing worse that munching through a buffet to be asked "how are you finding the lambs’ testicles?"