Annabel Mackie

Spotlight On: Annabel Mackie

Thanks for taking a look at Creativity Talks. Consider this a bit of a get to M&C Saatchi, from some of our thoughts on the world of ads, marketing and beyond, or just finding out a little bit about the people in the building. And it’s all on the theme of Creativity Changes Everything.

This week, we spoke to Managing Partner, Annabel Mackie who’s been in the industry for over 20 years creating magical work for a range of clients.

Annabel’s Fact File

Morning alarm: I don’t set an alarm in the morning – my youngest daughter does that for me. She normally starts our day anywhere from 5AM onwards. However, I’m not an early starter so, like a princess, I’m brought a cup of tea at about 6:15AM by my husband and my youngest daughter. She has a drink and I have a cup of tea, which is always a nice way to start the day.

Song of the week:The Look’ by Roxette, but the next most listened to song on my playlist is Fraggle Rock

Ad of the week: There’s a [newish] Always ad. It talks about period shame, but what’s brilliant [is] it’s media placement. You can basically only see it on Sky Sports, where many of the dads/men/people that don’t menstruate are. I [actually] hadn’t seen it as I don’t watch lots of Sky Sports, but my husband had seen it and showed me. Without even realising it, people that mensturate are shamed by their periods by lots of little microaggressions – it’s a really powerful ad. [Though], I did have a tussle with the end goal of Always selling menstrual products, [as they] aren’t really sustainable, but they are also leading a really strong and important message. It’s definitely the ad of the week, or at least the month for me.”

We work in advertising. What’s your viewpoint on the strength of advertising in the world we currently live in?

“Advertising has a huge impact in the world we live in, as if our work didn’t work, brands wouldn’t pay us to do the work we do. We have a role as creative agencies to be really choiceful in the brands we choose, or the causes we choose to support. What is brilliant about M&C is that we have a great mix of government clients and commercial clients, which is a brilliant counterbalance. Yes, we can understand the commerciality of the work we do through [clients like] LNER, Costa and O2, but what’s also brilliant is that we can actually say we are saving lives with our work with OHID and NHS – not many agencies out there can do that. I think brands have a role to play but it’s not binary, it’s not just brands or the government that can influence consumer behaviour – the work we do works but it’s not the only thing that creates influence in society.”

Which ad captures creativity within advertising to you?

“There was a moment in time in the noughties when the creative bar definitely rose and that was a combination of the Sony Balls ad and the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad. Suddenly we had massively long spots that didn’t have logos until the very end, and there wasn’t a big product message. The purist in me loves the art of the craft in these executions. I was a senior account manager at the time, and this was definitely when [I realised] there was a fizziness in the industry, a penny drop moment of ‘oh that’s the creative standard we should all be aiming for’. We all had to raise our game, be as creative as that, and it was a really exciting moment in the recent history of our industry.

I was [also] really lucky to work on Virgin Trains when Richard Branson took over the West Coast Main Line. We got to recreate the luxury, sexy glamour of travelling by train, because until then, no one has really taken a brand into the train space. They were launching their Pendolino, which could bend round corners so they could get to Manchester faster than anything else – 2 hours and 6 minutes – yes, I still remember the train timetable! We essentially spliced together movie clips from iconic films, it was a TV producers nightmare as we had to get permission from all these dead people’s estates, but it really brought back the sense of glamour of train travel again. [There was a] live score written for it that I went to the recording of, and it was performed by an amazing, full orchestra. I was very lucky to see the attention to detail into what makes a really well-crafted piece of comms. We all got really excited about it because it felt like the glamour of getting on a plane was being brought back to the train industry – it’s one of my career highlights and it happened in my first 2 years of the industry.”

If you could teach yourself any skill to help you in your role – what would it be? And why?

“I’m really bad at remembering names, and it’s a real fundamental part of our role in account handling. I get really stressed and anxious in social situations when I’m going to be put on the spot to remember someone’s name – and my husband is amazing at it, so I’m just like, ‘oh God’. I’d also love to be able to do mental arithmetic faster, I think that’s just helpful in life generally. But, we can always learn and that’s the best bit of our job, right? I get to learn all the time from clients and everybody that I work with, and I love it.”

YouGov states that Fridays are twice as popular as Sundays. What is your favourite day, and why is it so great?

“I love Thursdays. I work a four day week so Thursday is technically my Friday. Monday, I’m catching up from the Friday where I’ve been off, Tuesday I’m getting in the flow. Wednesday I can basically read the matrix again. Thursday, I’m ahead and I love being ahead – so that’s why I love a Thursday.”

And finally, we know inspiration can come from anywhere – you don’t need to work in an agency to see it in action. What book/podcast/shows have had you thinking recently? Guilty pleasures welcome!

“I read a book recently called ‘Still Life’ by Sarah Windman, and it was featured on BBC Two’s ‘In Between the Covers’. What I love about it is that it’s one of those books where loads of stuff happens, but all you’re really doing is witnessing a group of people live their lives. It is written so beautifully that I was just transported to Italy and eating all the food and seeing all the art and it just made me want to book a trip to Florence! It was so powerful; I was reading it in February when it was dark and miserable, but I just wanted to eat pasta and look at some nice art – it really transported me away. I also love ‘Just a minute’ on Radio 4. It blows my mind that they are speaking for a minute without hesitation or pausing – it’s amazing they’re not umming and ahhing something I could definitely learn from.

I finished season 2 of Cheer, and I thought the right cheerleading team won, which is good. That’s my guilty pleasure! It was interesting to see the impact of COVID on the big competition event, and it was a harder watch than I was expecting, but I thought it was brave of Netflix to push through in releasing it despite all the hype/bad news surrounding the show and it’s cast.”

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