They say good things come in small packages, and Jason McCullough is no exception. When heās not doing handbrake turns in his 1.4 litre vintage sports car, heās sitting on the roof of his Burnage villa playing the bugle like a wolf howling at the moon. Jason McCullough, the man, the enigma ā this is his story.
What originally brought you to AHOY?
The fact that Mark is my cousin certainly helped thingsā¦ No, but seriously ā I was previously working as an electrician, did that for four years before I decided that I wanted a changed. Problem was, I wasnāt 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 Iād jump in and give it a go, and itās 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 ā 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 ā itās like youāre working with mates rather than just colleagues. Itās definitely not a case of just coming in, getting on with it and praying for the end of the day.
Itās such a laid back atmosphere, the topics of conversation around the office are definitely different ā but itās not laid back to the point where work isnāt getting done, thereās definitely still a professional edge to it, people are still passionate and professional in how they do the work that they do. Itās 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.
Whatās 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 itās going through each campaign ā 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 havenāt been here that long, I would probably say Barney & Taylor. Weāve handed that brand from the very start, and built it from the ground up. Itās been really exciting to see where we can go with it, and how far weāve be able to take it. It will be so rewarding to eventually see their range in some of the bigger high street stores because weāll all know that weāve played a part in that.
Yeah, weāve 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 Iād probably prefer not to be sneaking around Manchester at the crack of dawn, putting up ampersands for people to find, but if thatās what it takes to create buzz around the brand then Iām more than happy.
What do you think it was in particular that made Mark suggest a role in PPC to you?
Markās 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 ā 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 Iād be a perfect fit for the role, so we just ran with it from there.
Would you say youāve always been quite technical and analytical in your way of approaching things?
Yeah, Iād say so. Iāve 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 ā you smashed through the PPC training, didnāt you?
Oh I passed it first time, Jonny, but I donāt like to bragā¦ It was about two to three weeks of wall-to-wall reading, but I got there in the end ā thanks to my buddy Qadir from Google!
How do you find working in Heaton Moor, compared to the city centre?
Itās 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 Iād also like to dip into SEO ā I think itās safe to say that that knowledge makes the account executive side of my job a lot easier, and I mean, itās all interesting stuff to learn so itās not like it would be a chore or anything.
Where are you from originally, seeing as you live so local now?
Well Jonny, Iām from the mean streets of Costa del Burnage ā it’s just down the road from Heaton Moor, really.Ā Iām a local boy, born and raised. Iāve moved around within Burnage over the years, but havenāt managed to escape it just yet!
Any songs/albums on repeat at the moment?
I mean, nine times out of ten, itās Sheās Like The Wind or any other Patrick Swayze hit on repeat. But other than that, I donāt really have a favourite song, and I donāt 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. Iām quite into the Foo Fighters at the moment ā so it one day I could start with them, one day I could start with Arctic Monkeysā¦ Iāve been listening to Uptown Funk a lot recently, but havenāt we all? God what elseā¦ Schoolboy Q and Ja Rule as well, so itās kind of two ends of the musical spectrum, really.
Whatās 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?
Itās normally wherever lets me in when Iām intoxicated! But seriously, like everyone else is probably saying, Iāll jump on the Northern Quarter bandwagon ā itās predictable, but thereās a decent mix of bars there, and theyāre all so close to each other, so thatās where youāll find me!
What TV series are you watching at the moment or would recommend? Youāre going to be like everyone else and say Sons of Anarchy, aren’t you?
Well, yeah Iām definitely another Sons of Anarchy fan, but Iām loving Gilmore Girls at the minuteā¦ No, no Iāll answer seriously ā Iāve worked through Lost, Prison Break and Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad is probably the one Iād recommend, but I suppose everyone else said a similar thing?
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now ā if Mark hadn’t made the call asking you to come and try your hand at PPC here at AHOY ā what do you think youād 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, Iāve always fancied being a porn starā¦
Moving swiftly onā¦ Letās talk about food. Youāre famous for the amount of meals you have in a day, and you mentioned it earlier ā talk us through the Jay McCullough food schedule on an average day.
Yeah itās basically the same schedule youād use for a newborn baby ā just feed me every two hours. I might start with a breakfast before arriving at work, then by the time I get to work Iām getting a bit peckish, so Iāll get a second breakfast in. Thatāll keep my stomach happy ātil about dinnertime, and then surprisingly enough, itās 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, Iāll have tea, hit the gym then itāll be tea 2. Depending on what time I actually get to the gym, there might be a pre-bedtime snack thrown in there two ā so maybe thatās seven meals rather than six? Itās usually only five or six, though.
Yeah, yeah only five or sixā¦ Final question, Jay, and itās a big one ā what does chicken mean to you?
Chickenā¦ Chicken is everything to me. I donāt think Iād function without chicken ā my meals are based around itā¦ My lifeās based around itā¦ I love chicken. That definitely didnāt sound too weird, did it?
No, no ā not at all. OK, so in an apocalypse where for whatever reason, all the chicken in the world disappears overnight ā whatās the back-up plan? What are you switching to?
And on that note, Iām going to wrap this up!