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ARMLife Interview with Ed Feast

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Throughout school music was my main focus, primarily playing the piano. I decided against studying a proper subject at university, much to the irritation of my parents, in favour of a degree in Jazz piano, which my father assured me would only mean a life of working in McDonald’s.

Throughout university, I taught piano in schools and played with loads of different artists and bands all over the place including the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, The Rat Pack Show, and oddly enough duetting with Jamie Cullum.

I quickly realised though that I wasn’t going to be good enough to make enough money selling albums and touring as a piano player, so I buggered off to London to seek my fortune.

How did you get into the media industry?

By mistake. That’s not what I said when I was interviewing for my first jobs in media sales though. I’d been to a party at a friend’s house in North London, took a fancy to her housemate, and decided to move to London to win her favour.

Of course, it didn’t work in the slightest, so from that point of view, the mission was a total failure. What it did do though was get me into media sales…the only business that would take somebody with no idea what they’re doing. Other than McDonald’s.

 I started out at Viacom Outdoor (now Exterion) and moved to Chrysalis (now Global Radio). Pretty soon I realised that whilst selling was fun, and the people that you work with are great, it wouldn’t hold my interest long term; no matter what the brief was…the answer was always going to be what you had to sell. Most of the job is retrofitting a story to justify why your medium is perfect for toilet rolls, payday lenders and investment banks.

How did you come across All Response Media?

My first ever media lunch (probably back in 2005) was with CJ and Dylan at Vic Nailer’s in Farringdon (Sting’s pub in Lock Stock), and I used to be the Viacom Outdoor rep for All Response Media. Later on, when I’d transitioned to work at agencies, I met our CEO, Andy Sloan, at a Varsity rugby match jolly with ITV, so the company has been a constant throughout my working life.

After working in the industry for about 5 years I decided to have a crack at setting up an agency of my own just off Oxford Circus. As you’ll guess, given that I’m working at All Response Media, and not sitting on a beach, it didn’t make me my millions. But I did unearth the rough diamond that is Tom Parker, who was my right-hand man for a few years as we pitched for and won accounts like SeatWave, Montagne Jenuesse and FluCamp Clinical trials and ran it for about 3 years before we wound it up.

All in all, though it was a tough slog, so I sent up a distress flare, which was answered by Dylan Moss. Shortly afterwards I was sat in front of the Holy Trinity (Andy, Colin, CJ) and Mr Moss himself, attempting to persuade them that I’d be a decent hire. To my absolute joy, Mr Parker also made the cut and remains a bloody good egg and an important part of our business.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I try to cause as much trouble as I can.

I’m a big fan of challenging things that I think are bollocks. I’m also a big believer that there’s always a better way to do things, so we should constantly be trying to find it. This is what I spend the day doing.

Working with my direct team, headed up by Malcolm, and also across other key clients within the agency to call bullshit where I think we’re not doing it right, and to get the best out of our clients’ investment in media.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Making changes to clients’ media investment and seeing them make loads of money.

What’s your favourite thing about working here?

There’s a lot of freedom to try new things, and to shape the direction of the business, at every level. The Holy Trinity is open to listening to ideas from anyone, so I’d urge people if they’ve got an idea that they think could change our business for the better…speak up. That goes for clients as well, of course.

Do you have any hidden talents or facts that people here don’t know about you?

I wouldn’t count this as a talent yet, but I have started making sausages from scratch. I would say though, that they have all, without exception, been disgusting so far. I’m hoping to be able to count this as a talent soon though. I do bake pretty decent bread though and my BBQ skills are getting much better under the careful coaching of ARM resident pit master, Greg Pipe.

What’s your favourite thing to do in London in your spare time?

I like the markets, although I always spend an idiotic amount of money on buying more cheese than a human could consume before it goes off. This was a problem until I discovered fondue.