In a special edition of 10 minutes with, the Guardian’s director of advertising Imogen Fox discusses her route into advertising via fashion journalism, the news brand’s latest ad effectiveness research and a compliment from Karl Lagerfeld…
How did you get into your career?
I wrote to a journalist at The Independent on Sunday asking whether I could help research her fashion column. I voluntarily worked for the paper for two years, all whilst doing a cleaning job to pay my way. Eventually I started getting paid and began a career in fashion journalism.
I started as the assistant fashion editor at the Guardian and 17 years later I work in the advertising department. I’m really happy here.
Why does journalism matter?
Without independent reporting that can hold power to account, society crumbles. Plus, quality writing is entertaining – how else would I know what the vibe shift is?
Why does advertising matter to society?
Well it helps to fund the Guardian for a start, which I would argue is good for society. At its best it captures the cultural zeitgeist, it can be beautiful, it can be funny.
What have you been working on most recently?
We have been working on a brilliant piece of research that shows that as a media format, podcasts are the very best in terms of attention. With the Guardian producing hits such as Today In Focus and Comfort Eating with Grace Dent, we are pretty pleased about this and will be banging on about it a lot.
Career highlight so far?
Karl Lagerfeld once called me “charming and silly company”. I’ll take that.
What opportunities does investing in news brands bring to advertisers?
We are amazing at building brands. We are truly effective. We are creative. We are trusted. We are culturally relevant and of the moment.
Favourite ad campaign featured in news brands?
Conscious bias, but I love the work we have done with Ocado recently.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
You can boss from below.
My mum, for running her own business “Jacqueline Fox Hairdressers” in 1980s Bolton (and everything else).
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
Lee Radziwill, Danny Dyer, André Leon Talley, Kim Kardashian and probably someone who can cook.
How do you switch off from work?
Watching telly with my children – often by way of the Star of Kings round the corner from the office.
If you weren’t in this career, you would be…?
I’ve wanted to be a spy since I was six. I’ve done a super recogniser quiz and I was pretty good so I still reckon I would be amazing at it.
Gym or gin?
Not actual gin because it’s horrible, but gin yes.