Kate Stanners got her start in advertising at GTT as a creative director before moving on to St. Luke’s, where she rose to the level of Vice Chairman and Creative Director.
Over the course of her career, she has been awarded and lauded having worked on brands such as Carlsberg, Toyota, T-Mobile, Boots, Eurostar, Cadbury Holsten Pils and Nurofen. She was also D&AD President in 2020 and the Jury President for Press and Outdoor in the 2021 D&AD Awards.
The Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi London Stanners spoke to Beth O’Brien and Maria Devereux for the Love This podcast about her start in advertising, her leadership style and what she learned along the path to success.
The Love This podcast spoke to several D&AD jury presidents, and will be broadcasting those interviews over the summer. You can listen to the podcast here. Here are our top takeaways from Stanners’ episode.
On starting out in advertising as a woman
When my first writing partner and I came down to London we traipsed around with our portfolio and saw loads of people until someone finally gave us a job. At that time, it was very unusual to be two women and so we were seen as a bit of a novelty in a creative department. People would say, “Well, we're not sure we need another female team.” We found ourselves always being probably really one of the only female teams whenever we were doing a placement, which was a bit intimidating.
On assimilating into unfamiliar environments
I think the attribute of being prepared to make a fool of yourself is actually quite useful. It's important to not quite care what people think because you're having to expose your inner thinking to other people, and they're quite within their rights to say that they're not great.
On starting out at GGT
Dave Trott taught me to really interrogate a brief, he just taught you how to find what is important in the problem. His mantra was always, "Make the work that people want to talk about in the pub, or in the playground." He taught us to make work that people would like and love, and the things to help you do it, but never veering off course from the core task.
Learning to switch lenses to connect with consumers
I always look at work, through a different lens to the people that are writing it. As a woman, because the majority of people working on stuff were men, I would always throw back to them to say, even really simple things like instinctively, “Why have we got a man driving the car?” Just because something is seen to be a stereotype, it doesn’t mean we have to conform to that.
We have a huge realisation, particularly in The States and in the UK, that we haven't been that inclusive as an industry and that that has held us back in terms of being relevant to our consumers and I think it is changing.
On judging the press and outdoor category for D&AD
It's the execution of an idea, it's how relevant to the audience it is, how it works in its media… All those things become part of the discussion. When it comes to print it’s interesting because it's publishing and it is evolving with new technology and a lot of stuff is beginning to be in this lovely third space combining the real and the virtual, so I think that's interesting.
On D&AD Shift with Google
It is just the most phenomenal programme. We have great success stories of people then going out and pursuing that as their career getting hired and it is a way to try and diversify our talent. So, selfishly as an industry it's essential, it's getting talent that might not think that there is a space for them in our industry that there absolutely is.
On moving from a boutique agency to a big international one
What I've learned is, it's not much different. That, when you pull it apart, it's about the people in the company at the time and you make that agency with its 40 years of history and the burden of its amazing success, and you make it yours for the time you're there.
On her leadership style
My leadership style is to, sort of lead from behind, to try and be a foundation of support to nurture talent, to recognise opportunities and to give them to people. When you are working in a team you need to listen to what's needed and then clearly set tasks for people. I think, giving people clear feedback, and clearly setting tasks so they know where they stand.
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