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When tech giants buy creative agencies, it will be one big movement, says Kate Stanners of Saatchi & Saatchi

Stanners believes that if technology companies and agencies work in close coordination and respect each other, they can bring out powerful results. She also spoke about diversity in the agencies, explosion of creativity in India and why she hates social media

Kate Stanners

Kate Stanners, Global Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, believes that if technology companies such as Capgemini and Accenture were to acquire giants like Publicis and WPP, it would be a big move. 

"One can only benefit from the deal by partnering with each other to deliver better rather than trying to be better than each other," she told during an interview on sidelines of Spikes Asia 2017.

A believer of fetching diversity in an organisation, Stanners thinks that getting more female creative directors on board can help agencies produce outstanding campaigns.

Stanners was appointed Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi UK in January 2005. Prior to this, she had co-founded BoymeetsGirl, an agency founded on the belief in the importance of delivering creative ideas to consumers for clients. Earlier, Stanners was Vice-Chairman and previously Executive Creative Director of St Luke’s, which she joined as Creative Director and, indeed, its first hire in 1995. Away from the creative world, she loves spending time with her family.


There are talks that technology companies such as Accenture and Capgemini might buy out networks like Publicis and WPP. Do you see that happening? What do you have to say about it?

I find it very interesting. It’s not unusual and a lot of people have been doing it in the past and it has failed because some forces reject other forces and sometimes it works quite well together. I have worked closely with Digitaslbi and Sapient. You need to spend time together as you speak different languages. One needs to respect each other and not think you are better than the other. If you really understand what the other does, then it is powerful.

So, do you support the idea?

It will be a big one movement. I can see why it will happen and it is happening. What was interesting was when Publicis bought Sapient. The way that works, the creative agencies are able to access the knowledge and experience and understanding and use it and vice versa. That is at the end going to make creativity more powerful. Technology will bring to us the way in which we can make the work more powerful like never before. Whether you buy each other, I don’t know but they will have to coexist.

Where do you see India standing in the global advertising space? 

There is such an exciting explosion of creativity in India. I think partly it is the tech meets the creative. I also see highly emotional form of storytelling that is uniquely India and that we saw in the Vicks piece of film. India stands good in the filmmaking craft. Indian advertising has a place on the world stage in a way that was not in the past. It’s coming of age but is taking over as well and leading the way.

Where would you place L&K Saatchi India operations globally among your agencies? 

I have known Praveen (Kenneth) for years as we have worked together. I used to come to India a lot. India office brings a really impressive dynamic business. They are working on behalf of clients to change their businesses really well. Delna Sethna, chief creative officer, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi, had a Glass Lion for #GiveHer5 campaign this year which was an extraordinary work.

Do you think all the discussion around gender stereotyping and women’s depiction in ads can help change the reality?

I really think it can. I see so much work coming in. I love the Nike Da Da Ding work from India and BeatMe work from Pakistan. I think slowly we are having confidence. Particularly, if you look at Da Da Ding, it’s about encouraging young women to boost sports and play a strong woman. Not just the message but the portrayal of women becomes powerful. 

I also loved the work that was done by Ariel Share the load. Sometimes it is little things that can make the difference and change perception. We have an unconscious bias and if we can just check with ourselves, I think that will make a difference. There was a lovely campaign done in India for Pampers where they talked that it takes two to bring one up. It is not just shouting from the rooftop but making an observation that we should start doing things differently. Advertising is a very important part of popular culture and hence it is our responsibility to be responsible. 

We heard you talking about the need for diversity in the agency. Does it even matter where the idea comes from, be it a woman or man?

It doesn’t. It is important to have diversity within the organisation. It helps to learn from each other. By diversity, I just don’t mean men and women but different perspectives by people of different background and culture.

We don’t see many women leaders at the top. You have made it to the global role now. How challenging is it for you being a woman? In India as well, it is now we are seeing the ratio of women: men coming nearer to equal. What holds back women from reaching the top and what can be done in this regard?

I hate pointing a finger on that, but having children and family does have an effect on one’s career. Sometimes you drop out and when you come back, your colleague might have progressed in a way you haven’t. One of a thing that I have noticed in our office is that we have a lot of women who may work for four days a week. Not many people talk about that openly and quietly move out. We encourage people to talk about it. We make it a point that people are able to go home early, pick their children from school and can even take Fridays off to be with their children. Because it is that way you stop it being something to hide. I wouldn’t have been able to do my job if not being supported massively by my colleagues. Our industry is about a team, not ‘I’ but ‘We’. That comes in turn of emotional and physical support. 

Do you think women are given less opportunity than men? 

I don’t think women are given less opportunity. I think in certain cultures it has been a norm to have women at senior positions and others are getting to shift to balance a bit. I am really hoping that still it is a long way to go. In creative industry there are a few global creative directors who are women. Hopefully, by the time I retire there would be loads.

We have read a few articles that you don’t find yourself well-equipped with technology. What do you think you are losing as a creative leader by not being digitally abreast in today’s day and age?

I hate social media and love speaking with people. For me it’s all about having a conversation. I need technology to stay in touch, but I don’t use it for further our relationships. Of course, at work place I spend time in learning whatever is new. At work front I am excited, exposed and enjoying what possibilities innovation and technology can bring. It is just in my home life that I would like to sit down over dinner to talk to my son and husband than being on the phone the whole day.

What would you like to tell the younger generation entering advertising?

I think advertising as a concept is changing by the minute not the day. It’s a dynamic landscape for us. To me, it is really exciting. Advertising does have power to change things. What is exciting about advertising is the collation of creativity and technology. New channels are exposed every day and old media doesn’t exist and new media is created.

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