heats up

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television -

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

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