My Media Week: Bob Wootton

Bob Wootton: director of media and advertising at ISBA
Bob Wootton: director of media and advertising at ISBA

This week Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, The Voice of British Advertisers, joins WFA in Paris to talk global media issues, is disappointed by the shadow culture minister's views and reveals why his unofficial title is head of lunch


Feeling a little fatigued from playing guitar at two gigs the previous night, my 35-minute-commute is alleviated by some quality tablet time on The Times. I arrive at my desk to an inbox burgeoning with emails that could be categorised as: member requests for counsel (lots); requests for meetings (lots); welcome information (some); unsolicited shit (lots), and personal.

Things are typically pretty iterative at our regular senior team meeting, the focus being our 2014 budget and forthcoming annual conference. A cascade meeting with my team ensures that all the work will be done on time and that we are covering all the bases, meetings and events.

Lunch with a Commons Select Committee chairman is followed by back-to-backs, including a tech company with a proposal they want to convey to our members. We are seen as the bridge to busy advertisers, which can cause friction.

Then another tech company scoping a very interesting proposal to de-risk programmatic trading wants my opinion, as does a long-time industry colleague with an agency start-up idea. I discuss a reference we may make to the Competition Commission and a significant commentary on transparency we're preparing for our members with our consultant competition lawyer.

Tonight it's rehearsal with one of three bands I'm in. We need it as we're gigging on Saturday.


I cadge a welcome lift to work from my wonderful wife, Liz. We met through the industry and being with her is far and away the best choice I have ever made in my life. I am so proud of her and the success of the professional florist business she's established since leaving Conde Nast's The World of Interiors over a decade ago.

Following a solid morning of desk-bound duties, my weekly lunchtime session with ISBA's brilliant Pilates coach Sonia Palecek is well earned. Pilates is great for flexibility and extension, as confirmed when my last medical revealed I was two cm taller.

The afternoon’s ISBA executive committee discusses Publicis-Omnicom's progress, transparency, and the current political climate towards business. A fascinating presentation from Contagious morphs into a business dinner for 30 senior advertisers at the neighbouring Langham.


Off to Paris for a WFA meeting to network, share insight and determine action on global media issues with two dozen global media managers and commercial heads of major advertisers.

What a marvel that I can be on a Eurostar train 45 minutes after leaving home, do a big meeting like this and still be back in time to join industry doyen, UKOM chairman and good friend Douglas McArthur at the Thirty Club's dinner at Claridges.

I also attend the Marketing Group of Great Britain regularly and the Solus Club and WACL from time to time. MGGB is a fave of mine – great atmosphere and absolutely relevant to the job I do, though I always regret that their one-member-per-company rule means I must always be somebody's guest.


A very revealing mid-morning breakout session at the AA's Lead 2014 event, where it soon becomes clear very quickly that Helen Goodman, shadow culture minister, is neither well-briefed (it had to be pointed out to her that there were no ads in EastEnders), nor in any way hospitable to industry's cause (to blame for the looting at last year's riots, apparently). Tory central office was revelling in retweeting delegates' disappointed tweets, mine included, at this utter nonsense.

Then a quarterly highlight, the London Guitar Club lunch. I founded this small group of like-minded high-end collectors a few years back. It's a convivial and knowledgeable bunch which meets at The Ivy Club lubricated by St Veran and 5 puttonyos Tokai. Recent guests have included Loyd Grossman, a real guitar nerd, and plans are laid to welcome, amongst others, Jimmy Page.

Off to TBWA to host an early-evening, bi-monthly ISBA networking event. My colleagues have worked tirelessly to make these a success. We've done about eight so far and we're up to 80-plus member delegates now.

The format is simple: a presentation from a media owner or agency with something really interesting to say, and a more personal one from a senior marketer speaking about their career, current role or a particular thing they've been involved with. Chatham House rules ensure lively debate!

I scarper off to Oxford to see the extraordinary Matt Schofield play at the Bullingdon Arms before a late sprint home.


A good ABC board meeting takes most of the morning and sees some real progress on magazine circulation reporting. One step forwards…

At ISBA, my unofficial title is Head of Lunch because I used to do a great deal of business that way, but these days it's rare, even on a Friday. It's become normal to exchange emails around this time with my friend Richard Brooke of Unilever instead. We needle each other over our respective lunch arrangements. Both at our desks, his a chicken sandwich, mine a pulled pork wrap. Tragic.

Then into a series of conference calls to settle the agenda for an invitation-only event we're running for our members on automated trading, and another about a session I'm organising and moderating at FEPE’s global OOH event in June.

A further call about our next event over at Shoreditch's Tech City to introduce advertisers to emerging opportunities, some pretty wacky. And a reminder email and call for any dietaries to all my guests at the forthcoming Night For Nick, a sell-out fundraiser for the Cornish Air Ambulance service in memory of Nick Milligan, God rest him. Kudos to organiser Claire Fuller.

I finally get to the incoming email mountain mid-afternoon and clear all the necessary before leaving promptly for an overdue night in with my wife and son Cal at last. We enjoy a catch up on 'The Bridge' series 2. 

Age: 58
Favourite media: Anything I can get on my iPad
My biggest inspiration: Family, friends and audiences
Dream job: Guitarist in The Foo Fighters (damn, it's already taken)
Not a lot of people know this about me... Sorry, it's all out there – I'm an open book

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