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The best (and worst) of 2019

10 Jan 2020  |  Michaela Jefferson 
The best (and worst) of 2019

This week we hosted the Year Ahead, our annual get together of industry bosses that hears predictions and promises for the future. But before they bust out the crystal ball, panellists reflect on their top media moments, businesses and personalities of the year gone by... alongside their media disasters. Here is a snapshot of what they said.

2020 Panel

Jan Gooding, Chair of Stonewall and Mediatel News columnist // Caroline Foster Kenny, EMEA CEO, IPG Mediabrands // Karen Stacey, CEO, Digital Cinema Media // Dominic Mills, Editor-at-Large, Mediatel News // Greg Grimmer, CEO, Mediatel Group (chair)



Media Personality of the Year

Karen Stacey: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

"With Fleabag and Killing Eve, she brought to our screens entertainment we haven't seen probably since Gavin & Stacey."

Dominic Mills: Dominic Cummings

"The puppet master, the master of digital media, accidental fashion icon, as of last week probably the HR director from hell, and a cross between Lord Mandelson and Machiavelli... He has run two astonishingly successful campaigns in Brexit and the general election, [and is] at the moment the towering figure of our times."

Caroline Foster Kenny: Greta Thunberg

"What a phenomenal and extraordinary impact she has had in such a short time. I've never seen anything like it before... She's also a role model for diversity - not just for age and gender, but for autism as well."

karen stacey dcm

Jan Gooding: David Attenborough

"What an astonishing life he has lived. Having shown us how we should love and appreciate our planet, he's now trying to encourage us to save it. One hope I have for the next decade is that by the time he reaches his 100th birthday in 2026, he will know his life was well spent and that we've fucking turned it around."


Media Moment of the Year

Karen Stacey: Super Sunday

July 14 2019 was the "most remarkable day" for tennis and cricket fans - and for linear TV too. Sports fans had more than a double helping with Wimbledon's historic match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer live on the BBC... while England was busy winning the 12th Cricket World Cup on either Sky or Channel 4, who shared the rights to the game.

Dominic Mills: "Drunk" Nancy Pelosi video goes viral

"This was the first evidence to the world at large, and certainly mass middle-America, of the power of the manipulation of videos. I think we will probably see some kind of action taken in the coming year over deep fakery."

jan gooding stonewall

Caroline Foster Kenny: Mark Zuckerberg's Congressional grilling

"An assassination of Zuck's judgement. It makes you squirm at every moment - it was one of those ones where I almost had to watch through my hands. [It was] a really poignant moment, because he struggled to be able to address or answer those questions around fake news and particularly around the whole political debate and the role [Facebook] play... I am sure we will see some action coming out of that."

Jan Gooding: Baroness Hale and the Supreme Court put a stop to prorogation

"One of the things that I thought was remarkable about that moment was that it was a unanimous decision - [Baroness Hale] was the woman amongst men - and yet it was almost seen as a feminist moment." Alongside Gina Miller, who brought the case, and QC Joanna Cherry, it was a "triumvirate of three very powerful women standing up to the great power in the land, which felt pretty blokey at the time... And it was absolutely marvellous."



Media Company of the Year

Karen Stacey: Twitter UK

"They are taking responsibility for being a media owner as a social media company more seriously than I've seen others do. I think their position of not taking political advertising [and] their position in the UK of paying their corporation tax is all a move in the right direction. Sometimes it's a tough place when you're working for an overseas company, and I applaud the team in the UK for trying to make a stand."

Dominic Mills: The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

OK, so it's not media, or even a company, but the ICO's approach to the GDPR era has been "steady" and "thoughtful" - the fruit of which was seen last year when it announced its investigation into real time bidding. "I think they've got their teeth into something, I don't think they're going to let go, and I think this year will be the year the ICO makes its mark on the data world."

Caroline Foster Kenny: Global

With the recent success of LBC demonstrating the investment the business puts into its radio brands, as well as its "very smart and very bold" move into the out of home sector, Global impressed Foster Kenny the most in 2019. Plus, "they've been really innovative with some of their new products - especially on the podcast side, the digital side, and with technology generally."

Jan Gooding: The Guardian

When The Guardian announced that its strategy to break-even included asking readers to donate money rather than putting up a paywall, people thought it was "almost risible" - but it worked. "I think its been absolutely fantastic. As PAMCo chair, I think it says something about the commitment of their readers, and as an advertiser that has to be quite interesting."


Media Disaster of the Year

Dominic Mills: Gillette's 'The Best a Man Can Be'

According to Mills, Gillette's divisive ad campaign shared a number of similarities with Prince Andrew's excruciating Newsnight interview... "Total lack of self awareness, lack of empathy, and colossal hubris." Pointing out Gillette's hypocrisy as the company continues to charge a premium for female products, he added: "A lot of talk, no action whatsoever, and I'm delighted they got slammed." More on that here.

mediatel year ahead 2020

Jan Gooding: David Pemsel's fall from grace

"I thought it was an absolute disaster for [the former Guardian boss who was heading to the Premier League], and it was a poor show for us as an industry. And I think some of the reaction to [the allegations] were disquieting, and showed that we still have quite a long way to go." More on that here.

Caroline Foster Kenny: M&C Saatchi

"It really is an end of an era... but we got a big learning from it as well. Our business is so complex and complicated, and we do need to have that governance - and this absolutely shows how imperative it is."


Don't miss our next event: The Future of Brands Wednesday 5 February 2020

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