Industry Profile: Fairfax customer marketing director, Michael Laxton

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 31 August 2016
Michael Laxton

Our Industry Insights Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

Last week we spoke to Signal senior VP, Michael Twomey. Today we head to Sydney to speak to Fairfax Media director of customer marketing and growth, Michael Laxton.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Just over 18 months.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

Fairfax is home to Australia’s leading news mastheads, lifestyle brands and consumer events - keeping people informed and entertained with quality content at its core.

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

I’m responsible for growing subscription revenues across Fairfax’s three largest mastheads - The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review - by leveraging the rapidly changing consumer behaviour in today’s media landscape.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

The hugely successful launches of Stan and Huffington Post Australia have shown how quickly our audiences can connect with new, quality products. From a masthead perspective, Adele Ferguson’s 7-Eleven and CommInsure investigations, the Unaoil scandal and Kate McClymont’s reporting on Eddie Obeid really show the invaluable role our mastheads play in Australian society.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

Newspapers serve a public good and are truly one of the few elective products that accompany a customer throughout their day. Quality journalism has the sense of being informative, insightful and entertaining all at the same time and I really enjoy the challenge of bringing this through into the marketing and customer experience.

Previous industry related (ad land/ad tech) companies you have worked at:

It’s always been client-side for me. In Australia, General Pants Group and Fairfax Media. In London, Kurt Geiger, Virgin Megastore (RIP) and lastly fulfilling my record label fantasies at Warner Music Group.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

I seem to have a thing for disrupted industries (retail, music, publishing), so I guess whatever’s due to have had its whole revenue model turned upside down by 2019.

What is the elephant in the room?

The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be. Working in the media industry I dare say there isn’t much that hasn’t already been thought-led. I do think that if you’re not best in class on smartphones in five years’ time then your brand will become completely invisible to 50% of the world’s population. Plus, profitably commercialising highly commoditised content and services - the sharing economy has reimagined the concept of margins.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

That I speak Swedish and German. Great at dinner parties, rubbish if you’ve moved to the other side of the world.

Top networking tip:

One wine, one water.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Try avoiding the postcode of head office.

My favourite advert is:

I think the Ricky Gervais / Optus ad nailed it for exactly what it was supposed to be. Ahem.

My must-have gadget is:

Wireless mouse. I’m no good for a track pad.

My favourite media is:

Right now it’s a smart Facebook carousel.

My favourite TV show is:

Chef’s Table (or House of Cards if i’m looking for corporate stakeholder tips).

The last book I read:

Magda Szubanski’s autobiography. Cracking read.

My mantra / philosophy is:

You should live and die by your sword, so back yourself.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

I genuinely enjoy coming up with great creative that ties in everything I want to say, looks brilliant and gets the results. Digital has really allowed marketers to commercialise their hunch.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Figuring out how to use Swedish and German.

In five years' time I'll be:

CMO at Volvo / IKEA / Lufthansa / Bosch.

Define your job in one word:


What's your poison:

Prosecco. There’s more joy in something that fizzes.

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