Inside Manning Gottlieb OMD’s media graduate scheme

Justin Jautzemis


Hi, my name is Justin and I am a Media Planning Assistant in the Planning Support Team. I’ve joined MG OMD in July as part of the 2014 grad intake.

Over the years Manning Gottlieb OMD has developed a very unique and successful approach to training newly joined grads. GradLanD is a 7 week hands-on graduate training scheme, designed to give you all the essential knowledge about the agency and the media industry. But that’s not all – at the end of the programme, you get assigned into groups, given a brief and have to pitch to the board. There’s only one winning team. Yaykes!

GradLanD usually kicks off with a few ice breakers to help all the grads to get to know each other. After working in the agency for a few months, you already know some people, but definitely not every grad just yet, which is why these ice breakers were so important, not just because we were collectively embarking on our training journey, but also because as a fully integrated agency we were bound to work together at some point in the future!

On the first day we were introduced to the schedule of the programme, heard some tips and tricks from last year’s winning team and – the most exciting part – we were given the brief for the pitch. This year it was an alcoholic drink,an interesting and challenging product with its own subtleties.

The next 5 weeks were amazing – we had sessions from every department in the agency. From programmatic buying to creativity and ideas generation; from planning and strategy to SEO – we got to see how each and every part of the business creates value for our clients. Each team did a brilliant job presenting what they do and capturing our attention. We had some hands-on exercises, helping us really understand what the day-to-day life of teams such as publishing or mobile looks like. The social team even took us down to the Facebook office!

With every session that passed, I started to see how all the teams in the agency work in complete balance, like a perfect mechanism. But it never felt like a dry or mechanical task – the culture and atmosphere at Manning Gottlieb is wonderful. Everyone is a passionate specialist of their field, always up-to-date with the latest trends, and creativity is in everyone’s blood. Each session was even more interesting than the previous one. And if, for example, a grad was working in mobile, they now knew exactly what the AV team does every day.

After soaking up all the learnings from across the agency it was time to put our freshly gained knowledge to the test and start working on the pitch.

This year GradLanD saw a record number of 31 young grads joining the agency, so we were assigned into 5 groups, each comprising a mix of grads from different teams. Each group were also assigned two mentors to give us guidance throughout the process (Romain and Roisin – you guys are the best).

As previously mentioned this year the brief was to prepare a campaign for a nationwide launch of an alcoholic drink, and we had just two weeks to do it!

To say it was a really busy two weeks would be an understatement – getting to know the client and understanding their business needs, trying the product, and collecting various market data, is just a snapshot of what we completed. Recognising the importance of fully understanding our target audience, we even conducted a focus group to better understand the end consumers.

Overall being fully involved in every aspect of a pitch was an amazing experience. Going through every single step of campaign planning – like crystalising the key idea, doing research on audience media consumption or integrating the different channels together – was not easy, but extremely rewarding.

As the pitch day was closing in, we started thinking of the presentation itself – the delivery being a very important part of the process. We really wanted to cut through and stand out from the other teams. We decided to literally “think outside the box” and take the judges out of the boardroom to another meeting room, in which we created our very own pitch theatre. We served cool refreshing drinks, added some greenery and dimmed the lights to create a really nice and comfortable garden vibe that was in line with our pitch idea.

Presenting to the board of directors was a nerve wracking but exciting experience, and they appreciated all our ‘above and beyond’ efforts – apparently no-one had done such a unique presentation before.

At our annual agency Christmas party and awards party, the Bobbies, we waited anxiously to find out which team had been awarded the prize, and we were so proud when our team was announced as the GradLand 2014 winners!

Overall GradLand was an experience every new starter in media should go through. It gave me a 360’ view of the media landscape, a thorough understanding of all agency operations, and most of all I have met some brilliant people and made amazing new friends.


Fancy becoming a Manning Gottlieb OMD grad? Get in touch with Clare Walsh on and reference this post to find out more.