James Kirkham


James Kirkham

Q: What is the most important challenge to address at DMS this year?
A: The digital media model is being re-booted. In every sector, across agencies, publishers and beyond. For me the most important challenge to address is getting everyone up to speed on what we should be doing, and how quickly we can do it. We’ve a laser-like focus on transparency in digital media, and how we can ensure meaningful value and time well spent is rewarded and recognised in the wider industry. Not just throw-away transient content plays or platforms which belch out attention grabbing nonsense which are instantly forgotten. The quicker we establish what actually helps shape culture and rewards that in kind, the better.

Q: What excites you the most about the media industry looking ahead at 2018?
A: That change is happening at all. The old guard is breaking down, people are panicking and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We won’t have too much longer in the grips of the secrecy and mystery of previous digital media incarnations. Instead I’m hopeful this whole industry should and can now pivot to explore what truly should work for a human in 2018. It isn’t about pure distraction, and it certainly shouldn’t be about automation and click farm acceptance. On the contrary, as we move from time spent to time well spent then i hope too it  comes with it practices which are clear and transparent and which the wider industry take on board.

Q: What is the biggest industry trend at the moment?
A: The removal of power and the loosening of the grip from what was the old media model, to explore opportunities with platforms and publishers routed in passions and cloaked in expertise.

Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A: I want football to change the world. I want to unite, and bring people together. It is the universal language and the most accessible one we have, so we need it now more than ever.

James Kirkham is the head of COPA90, the definitive youth media brand for football. COPA90 has been called the voice of a generation, resonating with its young audience through content that connects a passion for football with important social issues such as the refugee crisis.

One of the world’s foremost media industry figures and speakers, on topics ranging from football’s power to unite and change society, to the future of technology, James has appeared on stage for six years running at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and featured in BIMA’s prestigious Top 100 for each of the past three years.

James is also a highly respected speaker and commentator on the digital media landscape and on the global media business. His other speaking appearances include the Guardian Changing Media Summit, Edinburgh TV Festival, AdvertisingWeek NYC and London, SXSW, Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. He also contributes to a range of publications including The TimesIndependent, Guardian, Huff Post blog writer, CityAM, Radio Time, Q Magazine.

A serial entrepreneur, James sold his digital advertising business Holler in 2010 to advertising holding company Publicis Groupe and Leo Burnett London. Holler, which James formed in February 2001 with business partner Will Pyne, worked with Channel 4, Mercedes-Benz, P&G and Red Bull, and was behind the critically acclaimed marketing for the drama Skins on E4, a ground breaking approach that led to a host of awards, including three IPA and Guardian awards. It was the first television show to be marketed in the UK using social media.

James was Leo Burnett Worldwide’s head of mobile and social, leading the social media and mobile capabilities of the advertising network for clients including Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg’s, before joining COPA90 in February 2016.