Russel Howcroft on a phone call from Harold Mitchell

By AdNews | 12 February 2024
Russel Howcroft. Photo by Tim Levy 2023

The late Harold Mitchell was generous and tough, says adman Russel Howcroft, a fellow inductee into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

“At a personal level, you could argue I wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for Harold,” Howcroft said on 3AW this morning.

“He rang me, I reckon 25 years ago.”

Mitchell was then on ABC radio with Virginia Trioli once a week. Mitchell wanted Howcroft to do the segment every second week.

“So I did that, I enjoyed that,” says Howcroft.

“Andrew Denton heard that and he rang me and said, ‘Would you be on the Gruen Transfer  TV show?’

“So you could argue that that one phone call that I got from Harold has led to a whole lot.”

He described Mitchel as both generous and tough.

“When it was time to be tough, he was tough. When it was time to be generous, he was generous. And that that's a that's a skill in itself,

Howcroft noted that Mitchell was on the front page of every newspaper today.

“That says to me that perhaps more than just the industry knew him,” Howcroft said

“He was certainly big in the arts, overseas as well. He was a massive philanthropist.

“In the advertising world he was very powerful. He could move the market. 

“He literally could say, ‘Well, I think that the TV industry will have 5% advertising inflation this year.’ And bang, the TV industry would do as Harold told them to.

“He was the major pioneer in the Australian market for creating what's called a media agency where you don't make the ads, you’re the broker.

“What you do, and he did better than anyone, you aggregate all of the advertisers’ money, and then walk around town and then do deals with various media outlets. 

“He was the first major player in the creation of the notion of the media agency. He realised that if you could aggregate money, you'd get power, which of course is what happened. And he became really powerful.”

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