They say good things come in small packages, and Jason McCullough is no exception. When he’s not doing handbrake turns in his 1.4 litre vintage sports car, he’s sitting on the roof of his Burnage villa playing the bugle like a wolf howling at the moon. Jason McCullough, the man, the enigma – this is his story.
What originally brought you to AHOY?
The fact that Mark is my cousin certainly helped things… No, but seriously – I was previously working as an electrician, did that for four years before I decided that I wanted a changed. Problem was, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Luckily Mark got in touch to say that he had a position available for me, one that involved managing PPC. I mulled it over, looked into PPC to see what it actually was, then came to the conclusion that it would be a good change for me. It was the complete opposite of what I had been doing up to that point, but thought I’d jump in and give it a go, and it’s been going well ever since, really.
Obviously the industry and the nature of the work are different between your previous job and this one, but how are you finding working in a larger team compared to the smaller team you were working with before?
I definitely prefer it, though admittedly, I was working with only two other lads in my previous job – so it might not be the greatest point of comparison! I really enjoy working with everyone at AHOY, though, we all get on really well – it’s like you’re working with mates rather than just colleagues. It’s definitely not a case of just coming in, getting on with it and praying for the end of the day.
It’s such a laid back atmosphere, the topics of conversation around the office are definitely different – but it’s not laid back to the point where work isn’t getting done, there’s definitely still a professional edge to it, people are still passionate and professional in how they do the work that they do. It’s just the genuine enjoyment of our work that makes all the difference, I think. The work gets done, but you can always have a laugh.
What’s an average day for you at AHOY?
Minus the six meals, you mean? Most of my day is spent looking over each of our PPC accounts. I usually start off the day by working through emails, then it’s going through each campaign – seeing what I do to improve the ROI and reducing any wasted spend, overall optimisation, really. On top of that, I do occasionally step into an account executive-type role to help out Paul and Antonio, and that involves me speaking to clients, responding to emails, chasing things up and so on. There was even a brief spell where I was doing fulfilment for one of our clients, which made the weeks coming up to Christmas a bit hectic!
Which clients are you most excited to be working with?
Considering I haven’t been here that long, I would probably say Barney & Taylor. We’ve handed that brand from the very start, and built it from the ground up. It’s been really exciting to see where we can go with it, and how far we’ve be able to take it. It will be so rewarding to eventually see their range in some of the bigger high street stores because we’ll all know that we’ve played a part in that.
Yeah, we’ve definitely been able to run some really interesting campaigns with Barney & Taylor. Speaking of which, how did you find working on the Northern Digital Award shortlisted campaign, Bee In The City? You definitely played a major part in that!
I really enjoyed it, yeah, but I’d probably prefer not to be sneaking around Manchester at the crack of dawn, putting up ampersands for people to find, but if that’s what it takes to create buzz around the brand then I’m more than happy.
What do you think it was in particular that made Mark suggest a role in PPC to you?
Mark’s dabbled with PPC himself in the past, so he knows what is involved in the management of it, and he knows what qualities someone would need to be good at managing it – things like being analytical and having a managerial mindset. He knew I was looking for something different, obviously he knows me quite well, and he thought I’d be a perfect fit for the role, so we just ran with it from there.
Would you say you’ve always been quite technical and analytical in your way of approaching things?
Yeah, I’d say so. I’ve always been pretty organised, so I can completely see why Mark thought of me when he was looking for someone to manage PPC at AHOY.
Well yeah – you smashed through the PPC training, didn’t you?
Oh I passed it first time, Jonny, but I don’t like to brag… It was about two to three weeks of wall-to-wall reading, but I got there in the end – thanks to my buddy Qadir from Google!
How do you find working in Heaton Moor, compared to the city centre?
It’s definitely a lot quieter here than it would be in Manchester, and I live really close to Heaton Moor, so that definitely sweetens the deal!
Are there any strings you would like to add to your bow, any areas of expertise you would like to branch out into?
Yeah I would definitely like to expand more into digital marketing as a whole, rather than just the PPC side of things. I think I’d also like to dip into SEO – I think it’s safe to say that that knowledge makes the account executive side of my job a lot easier, and I mean, it’s all interesting stuff to learn so it’s not like it would be a chore or anything.
Where are you from originally, seeing as you live so local now?
Well Jonny, I’m from the mean streets of Costa del Burnage – it’s just down the road from Heaton Moor, really. I’m a local boy, born and raised. I’ve moved around within Burnage over the years, but haven’t managed to escape it just yet!
Any songs/albums on repeat at the moment?
I mean, nine times out of ten, it’s She’s Like The Wind or any other Patrick Swayze hit on repeat. But other than that, I don’t really have a favourite song, and I don’t really listen to the same albums over and over again. I tend to start at one artist on Spotify, and then get taken through by their recommendations from there. I’m quite into the Foo Fighters at the moment – so it one day I could start with them, one day I could start with Arctic Monkeys… I’ve been listening to Uptown Funk a lot recently, but haven’t we all? God what else… Schoolboy Q and Ja Rule as well, so it’s kind of two ends of the musical spectrum, really.
What’s your favourite night out spot in Manchester? Are you like the rest of the guys in here in that when you go out in Manchester its generally the Northern Quarter? Or do you like to mix it up a bit more?
It’s normally wherever lets me in when I’m intoxicated! But seriously, like everyone else is probably saying, I’ll jump on the Northern Quarter bandwagon – it’s predictable, but there’s a decent mix of bars there, and they’re all so close to each other, so that’s where you’ll find me!
What TV series are you watching at the moment or would recommend? You’re going to be like everyone else and say Sons of Anarchy, aren’t you?
Well, yeah I’m definitely another Sons of Anarchy fan, but I’m loving Gilmore Girls at the minute… No, no I’ll answer seriously – I’ve worked through Lost, Prison Break and Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad is probably the one I’d recommend, but I suppose everyone else said a similar thing?
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now – if Mark hadn’t made the call asking you to come and try your hand at PPC here at AHOY – what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I think I probably would have carried on being an electrician, but rather than working for someone else, I might have gone down the route of working for myself. Or, failing that, I’ve always fancied being a porn star…
Moving swiftly on… Let’s talk about food. You’re famous for the amount of meals you have in a day, and you mentioned it earlier – talk us through the Jay McCullough food schedule on an average day.
Yeah it’s basically the same schedule you’d use for a newborn baby – just feed me every two hours. I might start with a breakfast before arriving at work, then by the time I get to work I’m getting a bit peckish, so I’ll get a second breakfast in. That’ll keep my stomach happy ‘til about dinnertime, and then surprisingly enough, it’s just one big dinner. That lasts until mid afternoon, then I break out the Soreen to see me over until I get home.
As soon as I get home, I’ll have tea, hit the gym then it’ll be tea 2. Depending on what time I actually get to the gym, there might be a pre-bedtime snack thrown in there two – so maybe that’s seven meals rather than six? It’s usually only five or six, though.
Yeah, yeah only five or six… Final question, Jay, and it’s a big one – what does chicken mean to you?
Chicken… Chicken is everything to me. I don’t think I’d function without chicken – my meals are based around it… My life’s based around it… I love chicken. That definitely didn’t sound too weird, did it?
No, no – not at all. OK, so in an apocalypse where for whatever reason, all the chicken in the world disappears overnight – what’s the back-up plan? What are you switching to?
And on that note, I’m going to wrap this up!