WHEN Todd Sampson turned up for the return episode of The Gruen
Transfer, he expected witty fun. He was wrong. The show quickly degenerated into a free-for-all between Sampson and fellow panellist Russel Howcroft.
Sampson and Howcroft are business rivals: Sampson ( pictured) is CEO of the Leo Burnett advertising agency; Howcroft is the national head of George Patterson Y& R.
The two are quickly turning into television rivals, with Gruen host Wil Anderson as referee.
A chat about the Federal Government’s carbon tax advertisements was all it took for the verbal blows to start.
Sampson and Howcroft make At the Movies’ David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz look like pussycats.
‘‘ I don’t really know why it [ the bitter arguing] happens like that,’’ Sampson says.
‘‘ We both love the industry and have worked in it for a long time, but we have completely different points of view.
‘‘ We started talking about the carbon tax and that led to democracy and then it was on.
‘‘ Where Russel and I differ is that I don’t believe mass consumption is the solution to all our problems.’’
Fortunately, Sampson considers Anderson a friend. ‘‘ Wil’s a genius. The show is completely unscripted and we have very little preparation,’’ he says.
‘‘ For Wil to be in that situation, controlling it and coming up with the funniest insights is amazing.’’
You get the feeling Sampson has developed a keener social conscience since the birth of his children Coco and Jet. He also is the co-creator of Earth Hour, where individuals and businesses are encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour to make a stand against climate change.
He describes four-year-old Coco as his ‘‘ fountain of inspiration’’.
‘‘ I see the advertising world through her eyes and it’s a very different view for me,’’ he says.
‘‘ She is consuming all of these television shows and cartoons, which have all these persuasion techniques built into them.
‘‘ It makes me more responsible. I look at her and go, ‘ Wow, she’s dealing with all this’.
‘‘ She also says some amazing things that do my head in.
‘‘ The other day she said to me, ‘ Dadda, stop pretending you’re working by going to work’.’’
When Sampson isn’t contemplating advertising, he’s contemplating his navel on the side of a mountain.
He has completed an unguided ascent to the top of Mt Everest.
‘‘ In my job I’m often dealing with 50 diverse challenges a day,’’ he says.
‘‘ Mountains have been places of simplicity for me. I’ve been climbing for 22 years.
‘‘ When you’re on a mountain, all you’re worried about is the weather, food and your energy levels.’’
The Gruen Transfer, ABC1, Wednesdays, 9pm