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    ‘He’s still on my Christmas card list’: Mat Baxter and Darren Woolley resolve debate

    All’s well that ends well in the recent, robust debate between industry heavyweights Mat Baxter and Darren Woolley.

    Last week’s disagreement centred on a TikTok promo video featuring US media agency leaders. Baxter called it “wholly inappropriate,” while Trinity P3 founder and CEO Woolley wondered whether Baxter took issue with it “either because he’s just really bored, scared of being irrelevant or forgotten, or he’s overly sensitive because of what’s happening in the US [the government taking steps to ban TikTok].”

    Baxter jokes to Mediaweek that he is “still licking my wounds” from the debate. He says he and Woolley have texted each other since and are on good terms.

    Baxter adds his point was about the perception of bias and ensuring the industry is respectable and objective.

    “Does it make clients feel as though you might not be as objective as you could be? Yes. And that’s all I was trying to say. I know it has been well-trodden in the past. I’m not saying that history doesn’t exist.

    “What I’m saying is, if our industry wants to move forward and improve and become more respectable and become more like BCG, Accenture, and whoever, we have to start maturing.

    “Turning up in TikTok videos like that and doing that sort of stuff does not present our industry as an industry that is in control of billions of dollars.

    Baxter adds that he is “unapologetic” about his point of view, but understands Woolley’s perspective.

    “I thought he was a little crude when he said, ‘you’re not very relevant anymore, you’re bored, are you?’ I was like, oh that’s a bit harsh.

    “But my point is still well made, which is I think we have to grow up.

    “I’m not interested in what we’ve done before. I’m not interested in the history. I’m interested in the future. If we want to move our industry forward, if we want to become credible, if we want to be seen as objective advisors and strategic allies to our clients, we have to start to grow up.

    “I love Darren. He’s still on my Christmas card list, but we agree to disagree.”

    Woolley believes such conversations about the industry are extremely important.

    “I think it’s really important that people are willing to not just disagree or have alternative opinions, but really trying to get to the heart of why people have those opinions and understand those opinions before they reject them,” he tells Mediaweek.

    Woolley says he and Baxter disagree “on a very small point” about the wider industry. The pair fundamentally agree that media agencies have an ongoing transparency issue, he explains. The disagreement centred on whether Baxter’s TikTok example was the most compelling.

    “What he raised was one example of potentially unethical behaviour in his mind. My point is there are bigger unethical issues facing media agencies than that one.

    “I was a bit shocked that he chose that one. But yeah, we agreed to disagree. He thinks that that’s a big issue, and I think it’s probably, in the scale of all the issues facing media agencies, probably one of the smaller ones.”

    Last week, Woolley argued that the more “insidious” issue was accepting gifts and benefits without making clients aware. “Incentives like that have a greater impact than publicly appearing in a video.”

    While the duo’s LinkedIn debate, and Mediaweek‘s reporting, received plenty of attention, Woolley applauds Baxter for expressing his point of view.

    “I’d rather someone that’s willing to put their point of view than most people [who] quietly sit on their hands. These issues only get resolved or looked at if people are talking about it.”

    Woolley adds that, as the industry continues to evolve, robust conversations are a must.

    “Some people will argue that these conversations are made in private. The trouble is that there are a lot of stakeholders in the industry, and having a few private conversations doesn’t embrace the diversity of opinions that exist and come, and that’s where you get the best solutions.”

    Woolley says he hopes people who followed the debate feel encouraged, and are willing to share their real opinions, even if others disagree with them.

    “One of the great things about Mat is that he’s very open to alternative points of view, and we need more of those conversations.”

    Top image: Baxter and Woolley

    The post ‘He’s still on my Christmas card list’: Mat Baxter and Darren Woolley resolve debate appeared first on Mediaweek.

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