My Media Week: Elliot Parkus, Blackwood Seven

Elliot Parkus, UK managing director of Blackwood Seven, imparts the artificial intelligence gospel to media owners and casts a judge's eye over Media Week Awards entries.


The start of only my fourth week at media analytics agency Blackwood Seven, and I'm out of bed before the alarm sounds. As it is the school holidays I have to be extra quiet to not wake the whole house up, so I get my fix of morning music through Spotify on my walk to the Tube station. I am a huge music fan and can’t imagine how I ever coped before Spotify existed. 

I start the working week with a conference call with the team in Denmark. I update them on the progress on a number of new-business leads and run through what we need the data team to prioritise in order to deliver to our UK clients this week.

Monday is rounded off perfectly with a great dinner hosted by Clearscore founder and chief executive Justin Basini at Hix Soho, attended by the leaders of its marketing services agencies. It's a perfect opportunity to share our thoughts on the challenges ahead and discuss how we can all work together to produce creative and effective work.


I start my commute on Tuesday by listening to podcasts on the Tube. The football season hasn't quite started yet so instead of the various Tottenham or football themed podcasts I usually listen to, this morning starts with politics (Huffington Post's Commons People) and then goes pop culture with Tonga Peak Times. 

I have put aside some time on Tuesday morning to crack on with Media Week Awards judging. Once again I'm impressed by the standard of many of the entries. It's nice to see a fair few in there from my old agency Arena Media, but sadly I have to declare my interest. I hope the other judges mark them highly!

Spotify once again is the soundtrack to the office today, with a cool Northern Soul/Ska playlist.

I catch up with my old boss Stewart Easterbrook, chairman and strategic advisor for Media IQ and Widespace, among others. We swap notes on what we’re both up to and decide a drink is in order after the summer holiday.

I get home as the kids are catching up on The Voice Kids, and after the usual bedtime stories/arguments I sit down to find my Sky Q box now has 52 episodes of Stuck in the Middle on it. So I head to Netflix to watch Master of None – a must see if you haven’t already. 


I meet Jon Restall, head of agency partnerships at Time Inc, for breakfast at Hubbard & Bell. I've known Jon for almost as long as I've been in the industry, and he is one of the best – and nicest – people I have the pleasure to work with. 

Our breakfast starts with me updating him on the Blackwood Seven model, and him updating me on recent changes at Time Inc, before descending into the usual mix of family chat, football based puns and a competition on who has the most ailments. I win. 

The rest of Wednesday afternoon is taken up with new-business meetings. Henrik Busch, one of the founders of Blackwood Seven, is over from Denmark and we present at three introductory meetings. I'm incredibly fortunate that so many people are eager to hear the Blackwood Seven story. The belief that AI can help clients get to the truth of what their marketing spend delivers faster and more accurately than any other way seems to chime with more people every day. 

Then a trip to the cinema to see Wonder Woman with my three daughters. Great to have a female lead and hero for them to identify with, even if I slightly misjudged the level of violence. 


My morning commute consists of trying to finish last week’s Economist before the new one arrives tomorrow. I've been a subscriber for years and learn something from it every week. I still can't get my head around Thursday not being Campaign day, so as well as the daily emails I make sure I have a good look round the website when I get in to make sure I haven't missed anything. 

Today we have a meeting with the international and North American marketing heads and European marketing directors from Groupon. We have prepared a document to take them through the optimisations we have made to their account since working together, and how we can continue to improve their marketing mix and drive better results. 

I end the day with a meeting with Bob Wootton, former ISBA director of media and advertising, and Nick Fox, founding partner of Atomic London. I meet with both Bob and Nick fortnightly to discuss the future for Blackwood Seven. It’s a perfect opportunity for them to provide advice on the model, and how we move forward.


I have a breakfast meeting with Nick Hewat, commercial director at Guardian News & Media, and Tom Crichton, business partner at Guardian News & Media, which has turned into a bit of a broadcast from me.

When I finish answering the question "so what exactly is Blackwood Seven?" I look down at my still full plate and across to their empty ones. It's hard not to get evangelical about the new venture; I feel incredibly honoured to have been asked to lead it in the UK.

On the way out we bump into Simon Kilby, group commercial director at Bauer Media, and I see Tom looking nervous as Simon asks me how the new job is going. 

Friday afternoon is spent with Henry Daglish and the team from Bountiful Cow. We work together on a couple of clients and there is plenty to discuss. As the afternoon wears on we decide a couple of beers may help our creativity…


Age: 46

Favourite media: Spotify

My biggest inspiration: My parents, who taught me the value and importance of hard work and to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Dream job: Full back for Tottenham Hotspur and England. Actually, there is a vacancy now so maybe I'll dig out my boots.

Not a lot of people know this about me… I once came second in a singing competition with a routine that involved a prop worm.

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