Leaders

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Horsin' around with the editor of The Stable - #GettingToKnow

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Candide McDonald grew up in an advertising family. Her path into the industry was almost written in the stars, and her numerous years as an ex-senior creative are a testimony of that love for the industry.

Later, Candide went on to found The Stable, an Australian publication with international reach that works as an extension of Candide's own love for the advertising industry. The Stable is a huge supporter of Creativepool, and today we are proud to welcome their founder on these very pages.

We had a chat with Candide to learn more about her story and how she navigated the sometimes troubled waters of the creative and advertising industries.

Tell us a bit about your role! What is one typical day like?

My day usually starts with a deluge of press releases from agencies and production companies throughout the world. By 9.30am, the local press releases start to come in, so I tend to “hit the ground running” at around 7am. Happily, I work from home. Yes, I do work in pyjamas. I love to write and I love advertising, so my job – exploring, analysing and writing about current campaigns, creative profiles and creatives’ side hustles, writing up awards results and editing op eds - is a genuine joy. I also don’t mind working late at night or on weekends if I have to because I also dance at Sydney Dance Company Studios every night and most of Saturday and Sunday’s daylight hours.     

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

Fear. I had been editor of Australian Creative and I knew that I wanted my own advertising and production trade publication to be international and delve into the thinking behind the work that was sent. (This had been considered outside Australian Creative’s realm). I’m an ex-senior agency creative so creative strategies and brilliant ideas turn me on. And I had big ambitions for my own online magazine. But could I achieve them sat on my shoulders and whispered taunts in my ears for months.

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I grew up in an advertising family. My dad founded Grey in Australia and became its regional director for APAC. I loved listening to him talk about advertising campaigns and their strategies when I was little. At around eleven, I won a (consumer) advertising competition and announced that I was going to be an advertising creative when I grew up.

Dad spent the next six years trying to convince me otherwise, by letting me do work experience (read: all the worst jobs you could possibly imagine) in his agency every school holidays. My first job after uni was, therefore, at Vogue Australia and I became a health and beauty editor for the next three years. But I still held a torch for advertising and when a position came up at Grey I won it (OK, let’s assume nepotism won it for me). I worked at Grey in Sydney, London and Singapore and then did a very long stint at Ogilvy Sydney. Meanwhile, I built up a freelance editorial portfolio. One day, I applied for freelance work at AdNews. The managing editor replied by offering me a job as editor of Australian Creative instead.  

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

Biggest wins? There are two: The Stable reaching average monthly visits of 81,000 - 83,000. Winning the David Ogilvy Australia Award and the David Ogilvy International Award for a campaign for Avon, that I got to do by myself because “the boys” in the creative department wouldn’t have a bar of the job. Biggest loss? Leaving Ogilvy after nearly a decade. It broke my heart.

What is one top marketing tip you learned on the job?

Bite off just a bit more than you can chew. Devour it anyway. Repeat.

Which individuals and/or brands do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

Writers who write brilliantly. Writing may not be top of the pops in adland right now, but beautiful writing thrills and inspires me. I can only remember the very latest brilliant writing I’ve received. It came (as an op ed) from Kevin Mulroy, executive creative director at Mischief @ No Fixed Address. But there’s also Simon Lee, executive creative director of The Hallway in Sydney, who has written (directed and starred in) two absolutely remarkable films – one a documentary that made me cry audibly (in a crowded theatre), the other a satire that made me laugh far too out loud (yes, again in a crowded theatre). There others, plenty of them.    

How has COVID-19 affected you?

Honestly, not at all. (Except that my dance classes were online only for six months last year so I wove them far more easily into my work.)

What is your biggest hope for your brand in 2021?

Its growth to continue as it has been. Hope is one thing – and I’m a dreamer - but growth will only continue if I work at it. So I do.  

What is your one piece of advice to aspiring marketers?

Conquer fear and - massive apologies for the advertising cliché - just do it. Never let “what if I can’t?” or “what if it can’t?” get in your way.

How do you recharge away from the office?

Oops. I’ve already answered this. I dance – JFH (the stuff you see in music videos), hip-hop and ballet. I spend all day expressing myself with my head, with my words. Expressing myself with my body restores the balance.

What’s your one big dream for the future of brands?

For them not to be afraid of great creative advertising. 

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Haha: www.thestable.com.au. Plus awards annuals and any podcasts or video series by jury panels analysing the work they judged.  

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