How Dominic Smales Got Ahead

“My biggest inspiration has been one of the chefs I washed up for – he inspired me to never become as pompous as him.”

Name: Dominic Smales

Company: USP Content

Job title: Managing Director

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?

I actually wanted to be a stunt man, but I had a fear of heights. Both my father and step father were marketers and I was always fascinated by what they did. Especially when they arrived home with freebies!

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?

I did a degree in Media and Communications because there were lots of girls on the course, and found I liked the subject as well.

What was good and bad about your first job?

My first job was flogging ad space in The Buckinghamshire Examiner newspaper. It was a superb job because it taught me the basics about what did and didn’t work where advertising was concerned. If an ad failed to engage then it didn’t work; this basic rule applies to all content whether it is selling or entertaining. The bad thing about the job was it only paid me £8k a year.

List your jobs to date:

Washing up executive – Champney’s Health Resort

Sales executive – The Buckinghamshire Examiner

Account executive – Triangle Communications

Special projects manager – Northcliffe Newspapers

Group head – Chrysalis Radio

Sales and marketing director – USP Content

Managing director – USP Content

What were the best and worst, and why?

The worst was definitely the washing up. I got to listen to a lot of radio but I was put in a back room on my own with a huge rack full of filthy pots, pans and a sink for 8 hours at a time. The best is obviously my present role at USP Content. It is exciting to be in a space where not only the product but also the environment is pioneering. There is a lot going on in multi-platform content at the moment and it really feels like the world is our oyster.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

One of the chefs I washed up for – he inspired me to never become as pompous as him.

Who in the industry do you most admire?

The guys who set up Triangle Communications – Roger Hyslop and Kevin Twittey. They are true marketing pioneers and it is exciting to have Kevin as a partner in USP Content.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

We are really proud to be producing the in-store media for HMV, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that ‘Channel HMV’ is the best in-store radio station in the UK.

On what do you base your success so far?

Luck and hard work.

What are your ambitions?

For USP Content to be the premier production company for content that sells, entertains and engages on any platform.

Change one thing about your job:

It would be wonderful if people returned my calls.

Change one thing about your industry:

It would be wonderful if budgets favoured the innovative and exciting.

Change one thing about the world:

I wish it rained less.

What is your favourite brand?

HMV. I am a music fan and HMV is a brand that has constantly influenced my life. I have spent a lot of time and money in their stores and now I am delighted that the brand is expanding into multi-channels.

What is the next big brand in your view?

I think Apple still has a long way to go, but has the potential to be bigger than Microsoft.

List your “media diet”:

The Sunday Times for a relaxing weekend read, the FT as I think I should be reading it (doesn’t everyone?). Channel 4 does a good job delivering on demand content, The London Paper because it’s free and is usually thrust at me on my way home! For breakfast I love the Christian O’Connell breakfast show. I also love being able to listen to and watch Pod and Vod-casts on my iPod on the train. On-demand is the way forward.


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