The Fishbowl: Phil Christer, Amazon

The Fishbowl: Phil Christer, Amazon

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.

This week is Phil Christer, Amazon Ads UK MD.

Phil Christer has worked at Amazon since 2019, first as director of global agency development and then as managing director for Amazon Ads UK.

Prior to this he worked as president for global clients at Dentsu Aegis, global head of agency development at Google, managing partner at Publicis Groupe agency Zenith, and client service director at IDG Global Solutions.

**Peer question** Who was your first media lunch with and where did you go?

One of my earliest memories was going to Asia de Cuba for a team lunch.  I was in my early 20s and new to London, fresh from travelling.

As you can imagine, I didn’t have a very high bar for restaurants, so I remember thinking — well, I’ll have a bit of this! There’s been plenty of lunches since.
** Question from Emma Callaghan, Reach sales and invention director. 

If you didn’t work in your current sector, which other media sector could you see yourself working in?

I would like to work in the football industry. When I was young, football was a big part of my life. I always played and coached.

It’s a brilliant game but there isn’t enough money or support at the amateur level so I would like to use my media, marketing and sales experience to see if I could help grassroots football.

If you could learn any new skill from scratch, what would it be?

I learnt French at school and somehow, I even managed to get an A in my GCSE French (which I am very proud of!) but my attempts to speak French don’t get me very far at all these days.

I would like to get my French to a really good level and then travel around France (especially the vineyards) immersing myself in the French culture.

If you could change one thing about the industry right now, what would it be?

I would like to make it more enticing for people to work in the advertising industry.  It’s such a brilliant industry, and I’m not sure that it is seen as the highly desirable career it once was.<

When I joined the industry 25 years ago there was a real buzz about working in advertising. Now, lots of other sectors are in-vogue.

A career in advertising has so much to offer and attracting the very best people to the industry is key to our future success.

Has selling media become easier or harder?

I don’t think it’s become harder or easier but it’s definitely become more complex and diverse. The fundamentals are still the same — you need to be able to understand client’s needs, and do all the basics.

But you need to know about so many more things as there is a proliferation of choice for advertisers. Back in the day there was just a handful for TV channels, sales houses and formats. With more channels and opportunities than ever, I think selling media, planning and buying media today is really exciting.

What is one of your greatest achievements?

Most recently, I am very proud of the progress that we have made as a UK Amazon Ads team. The last few years have been challenging for everyone for many reasons and, from a business perspective, we have had to create and adapt to new ways of working.

Hiring a great team and supporting them in delivering against the business goals of an increasing number and variety of customers has been one of the highlights of my career.

**Peer question** What has been your biggest, or most insightful mistake and what did you learn from it?

It’s not the biggest mistake, but the most insightful.  In one of my first jobs I found myself trying to be someone I wasn’t. I tried to act and even dress like other people in the office as I thought that was important to fit in and be successful.

Then one day I thought — stop this — just be who you really are. I think that approach has served me well ever since.

** Question from James Cornish, VP of international sales at Vevo.

What are clients talking about this year that they weren’t last year?

Almost without exception, all my clients are talking about measurement. Of course, this isn’t a new topic, but the focus on measurement is on a different level than I’ve ever seen before. Without doubt it’s driven by economic pressures but it’s also because we have better technology than ever to help customers get the best return on their spend.

Another big topic of conversation is around the customer journey from content and commerce. There’s a lot of activity and innovation in this space at the moment and it’s really exciting.

**Peer question** What would you tell your younger self about if you could?

Firstly, I would tell myself every single FA Cup final score for the past 25 years. Then I would tell myself not to worry about Newcastle United because they are going to turn out okay.

The big one though would be to tell myself to just enjoy it. I have been fortunate to have a really interesting and rewarding career. We often spend time worrying about the small things that aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things so that would be the one thing I would tell a younger me.

**Question from Richard Bon, UK managing director and Europe commercial lead at Clear Channel.

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

In the future I think everyone will have some sort of second career so in 10 years’ time I would like to be running a gin distillery, and not any gin distillery, but the best gin distillery in the UK. It’s important to aim high!

Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact ella.sagar@uk.adwanted.com.

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