Jennifer McFarlane’s 15th Anniversary Interview

Jennifer McFarlane’s 15th Anniversary Interview

July 19, 2004, was Jennifer McFarlane’s first day at Harmelin Media as a Media Assistant. Fifteen years later, she is a successful and dedicated Media Director, leading Harmelin in broadcast and cross screen buying in many top U.S. markets for various clients.

We sat down with Jenn to learn a little about her personal life as well as how she has handled the vast change the past fifteen years have brought to this industry.

What is your philosophy towards your work?

To never procrastinate. I never did even when I was in elementary school. I would come home and immediately do my homework so I could have the rest of the night “off.”  I take the same approach with my work. As soon as I receive a project or assignment, I start the process as much as I can and get it moving.  Sometimes I may have too many “chat rooms” open in my brain, but everything is moving.  I can’t stand to have things hanging over my head.  Also, I always have a very buttoned up to-do list. I make one every morning, check off what I’ve done throughout the day, and then update it that night so I don’t miss a beat. Staying organized is so important!

I also like to be very responsive. If someone emails me – even if I don’t have an answer for them yet, I’ll at least email back to say “I’m working on it and will get back to you soon” – just so their message is acknowledged.

What are some of the notable changes you have seen in the industry since you started at Harmelin?

I started at Harmelin in 2004 so after 15 years, I could write a book on all the changes I’ve seen.  I remember in my first year at the company, I would stand at a fax machine in order to send documents to clients, and we received signed insertion orders from vendors via our fax machine. We could hear the machine going off from our cubicles or offices and everyone would run up to see what just came through and who it was for.  Now if you ask for someone’s fax number it’s like asking someone if they have a pager…. it’s just a thing of the past.

I remember working with a beloved colleague, Terry Maher, who would look up ratings in physical Nielsen books that lined the Harmelin 525 bookshelf walls and thinking, this is crazy!! Soon those books were gone, and everything became digital.

I have been on maternity leave three times at Harmelin and every time I came back from my 3-1/2 months away I felt like the whole media landscape changed and I had to familiarize myself with all the new terminology, new up-to-date buying processes or new software that was introduced.

There are so many ways that consumers can see or interact with an advertising message now. This means that we, as media buyers and planners, need to make sure our clients’ message is seen. This industry will continue to evolve and we will surely continue evolve with it – in fact, we try to remain one step ahead!

What has been your greatest success at Harmelin?

I honestly think my greatest success at the company is finding such a wonderful place to work right out of college.  I’ve had the opportunity to work on local, national and global clients throughout my career thus far and I’ve worked alongside some of the best leaders who have felt like family to me. Harmelin sets their employees up with the tools to learn and grow within the company to have a strong career but then also promotes and allows us to be able to manage time to dedicate to our families. I’ve learned so much about what I can accomplish both professionally and personally, and I’ve been loving what I do for 15 years.  That, to me, is success!

What is your favorite Song, Movie or TV Show and why?

I love music, all kinds, so to pick one favorite song is nearly impossible but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now and what’s been on repeat on my play list for the last 6 months;  Kacey Musgraves, Mumford and Sons & Maggie Rogers.   If I had to pick just one song at this current time it would be “Beloved” by Mumford and Songs.  My father passed away in January and this song was released around that time. The song is more upbeat, which is odd considering the sad story that it tells, but the lyrics express the exact emotion of what I went through as I watched my dad pass away. I have such an affinity for this song and always will.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?

Well I guess I would try to make it a vacation….

  • A cooler filled with food and drinks.
  • My husband
  • A boat with a GPS – so we can get home, when we’re tired of island life ?

 If you were a brand, what would be your motto? 

“Life is a gift, so be present.” We tend to look forward too much and think “what’s next,” or look back and relive the past but the moment that we’re in is so important to accept and appreciate. I have three kids under 8 years old and they have taught me so much about enjoying and embracing “the right now.”  Before we know it another 15 years will go by; time really does move so fast!

Joyclyn Faust, Buying AVP, raves, “Jennifer is a great buyer and I enjoy working with her. She has passed along a few buying tips and tricks that I use all of the time! She puts together thoughtful and strongly negotiated schedules for clients and has become an integral part of the Aspen account team.”

Joe Waugh, Senior Vice President, says, “Jenn is a wonderful team member who has brought tremendous value to the team as the manager of all broadcast buying for two of the company’s largest and most complex accounts, Regions Bank and Aspen Dental.” Joe goes on to say that Jenn has “excellent rapport with and the respect of the buying team, which allows her to work with them seamlessly to activate broadcast buys in over 80 local markets. She is a dedicated and loyal team member who is always ready and willing to help another co-worker.”

Thank you, Jenn, for your continued commitment and guidance. Congratulations on 15 years!