In our first ’10 minutes with…’ interview for 2023, Starcom’s Stanzi Gray sits down with Newsworks to talk about the pride she felt seeing her first campaign published, the power of tactical ads and which famous trio makes her fantasy dinner party guest list…
How did you get into the advertising industry?
I studied geography at uni and found myself naturally gravitating towards the human geography modules. I was particularly interested in the power of the media; across the modules I studied it seemed the media was the common denominator in shaping public views and the behaviours and actions that followed.
Paired with a passion for creativity, it became clear working in the advertising industry would be a great career path for me.
What is your proudest career highlight?
I vividly remember sitting on the train on the way to work one morning many years ago, flicking through Metro and sending a picture of a full-page ad I had placed to my mum saying, ‘I did that!’
It was the first ever print campaign I had executed from start to finish as an exec and I was immensely proud of myself. Since then, I have probably executed hundreds of digital and print campaigns and I still feel the same satisfaction and pride when I see them come to life.
What ad campaign or person do you admire most? (Other than your own campaigns!)
I think Visa’s ‘Where you shop matters’ campaign was, and still is, brilliant. Post-Covid, it’s only increasing in relevance.
I applaud Visa for using its advertising to support local businesses, especially during an economically challenging period and when even more people are leaning into their passions and building their own small businesses.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Why does advertising matter?
Advertising not only cultivates desire for products and services and delivers growth for brands and the wider economy. It can also be used as a powerful tool to educate and empower the public, normalise values and behaviours and encourage people to think differently.
What’s your favourite ad campaign featured in news brands?
I loved the Aussie haircare campaign that ran a few years back. Aussie ran a series of tactical ads around Boris winning the election featuring across front pages of newspapers captioned ‘Can’t help you lead a country, can control that frizz’. Humour wins every time for me!
You’re a journalist for a day: what would you cover?
I’m a sucker for a good crime documentary so I would have to say investigative journalism, reporting on something along the lines of the Tinder Swindler or Hotel Cecil. I don’t think one day would be enough though — I’m sure months if not years are needed to do a thorough job — but I’d like to give it a go!
How does journalism matter to you?
Journalism is a major platform for important events, whether that be environmental, political, humanitarian, the list goes on. It connects us with people and places from all over the globe and importantly can act as a platform to give underrepresented individuals or communities a voice when they need it most.
Without journalism, we’d have no idea what’s happening on the other side of the world. In a time of crisis, accurate and timely journalism is essential for us to act quickly and support those in need.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Whitney Wolfe Herd – the founder and CEO of Bumble. She became the youngest self-made woman billionaire after Bumble went public in 2021, all while raising her newborn baby.
She is a pioneer of the female working world, championing work-life balance and empowering women both professionally and in the dating world, permitting them to make the first move off the back of her own personal humiliation.
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
I’m a massive foodie so it would have to be Gordon, Gino and Fred. They’re a hilarious trio. Also at this dinner party, the guests would do the cooking!
How do you switch off from work?
I would love to say that I have some cool, inspirational interests and hobbies, but at the end of a busy day, you can’t beat a glass of red and a BBC drama. I’m also tremendously lucky to be part of an 18-girl-strong group of friends from my school days, so it’s safe to say they keep me busy at the weekends!
If you weren’t in the advertising industry, you would be…?
I am obsessed with interior design, as is my mum, so I think we would make the dream team in that field.
Gym or gin?
Gym followed by a gin?