'Creative Legends' Podcast: Mike Mathieson, CEO and founder of brand entertainment agency Cake

This week, our guest on the 'Creative Legends' podcast is Mike Mathieson, CEO and founder of brand entertainment agency Cake.

Mike started out working with bands as a record plugger and expanding into PR for music festivals where he met brands and realised it was a better outlet for creativity and the bottom line.

Along with Mark Whelan and Ben Jones he founded Cake. Joined by Adrian Pettett they built the agency by working with global brands in PR, experiential, social media and content creation. Cake became a legendary and award-winning creative agency.

In 2008 Cake was acquired by Havas and in 2009 a second office was launched in New York. The business continued to build and in 2012 was heavily involved in high-profile campaigns for Coca-Cola, British Airways, and Eurostar at the London Olympics.

Mike and Graham talk about:

3.05 Mike's beginning in the music industry as a plugger and the story behind his first-ever business call.

5.11 Mike talks about his move to Virgin Records and what he learned working with Janet Jackson, Soul2Soul, Cutting Crew and Paula Abdul.

6.01 How Mike took an unconventional path to work in PR and the creative tactics he used to get bands noticed.

7.30 Mike recounts stories of stunts that worked - including the Power of Love and a vibrator.

8.26 How Richard Branson was the master of the stunts including abseiling down a newly opened store.

9.38 Where the name Cake came from.

10.20 Why Mike left Virgin and started FFI (For Further Information) and its alternative name known to pluggers.

11.20 Why Mike decided to start his own business.

12.27 How Mike started working on music festivals and learning about the process, sponsors and the importance of the brands.

13.27 Mike reveals his eureka moment!

14.02 Why Mike decided to set up Cake in 1999 - a business focussed on youth culture and marketing.

15.37 How Mike learnt that the more entertaining the sale of a product, the more successful it would be - and so brand entertainment was born!

16.07 Mike talks about 'creativity rooted in truth', translating to the notion of 'transparency' today.

17.20 Mike talks about Orange and its creative stunt at Glastonbury music festival - with glowing tents so whatever state you were in, you could always find your way to bed!

19.43 Mike talks about the work for Visit London where Trafalgar Square was transformed from pavement to grass and bringing attention to the fact that London was one of the greenest cities. 

22.35 Mike explains the campaign for Confused.com that involved finding the most accident-prone street and making it safe so they bubble wrapped it. All of it.

23.22  Mike talks over the business model for Cake.

24.24 Mike tells the true story of a local pool that was having to close down and they put the Evian logo on the bottom of the pool and Evian paid for people to have swimming lessons. As it was on the flight path near Heathrow, it wasn't long before British Airways requested the same thing as it could be seen from the sky!

29.45 Mike explains the concept behind the Fruit Winders campaign. What worked and what didn't!

33.55 How Bill Oddie launched a computer game, telling the audience how much he didn't like computer games!

34.47 Mike explains how he tests a good idea. The 'so what' test. Simplicity and resonance. Will people care? Will people talk about it? Will it be noticed?

36.30 Mike and Graham talk about Jim Dowling and his wordsmithery, citing a press release Jim wrote getting more coverage than the product itself!

39.00 Graham asks Mike where he thinks creativity comes from and how it works best. 

43.27 Mike and Graham talk about remuneration for ideas and Mark Whelan's famous tag line, 'Evian, live young'. 

46.00 Mike talks about the value of replicating the core of the idea.

50.02 Mike talks about his involvement with Lucky Enterprises, a division of Lucky Generals. 

51.21 How running a business and being at the top can be lonely.

51.50 How Mike is involved in helping other new businesses, learning from the mistakes he has made.

53.00 Mike and Graham talk (briefly!) about how Mike is known for his temper (or passion) and an incident with a fax machine!