In our last ’10 minutes with’ interview before the summer break, Starcom’s Magnus Henderson talks to Newsworks about the power of stories, Nike’s innovative advertising and his football-themed fantasy dinner party…
How did you get into the advertising industry?
I always felt like the advertising industry was a perfect intersection of my two passions: writing and business. I developed an appetite for writing during my undergraduate degree and advanced an interest in business practices during my masters.
After a few chats with family friends who had experience in the agency space, I was sold on the idea and threw applications towards all sorts of roles and agency groups.
What is your proudest career highlight?
Probably being on a call with our client and the auditor of our media activation saying, “nothing to see here, keep up the good work!”
When you work in investment on a large account it is easy to get a blinkered view of whether what you’re doing is innovative and effective. To be assessed by a company whose sole purpose is to nit-pick our processes and come away with nothing is quite satisfying.
What ad campaign or person do you admire most? (Other than your own campaigns!)
As a massive football fan, my preferred ads are always the Nike pre-major tournament campaigns, my favourite being the pre-EURO 2008 Nike ad.
It was a POV camera shot (which I had never seen on an advert before) of someone going from lower league football, to playing for Arsenal against Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona and then eventually playing for the Netherlands against Portugal. I just rewatched it on YouTube and had a beaming smile all the way through.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Mistakes aren’t mistakes if you learn from them.
Why does advertising matter?
Society and social commentary is becoming more complex and evolving at a faster rate than ever before with the internet, social media and other outlets moulding our culture.
Being able to plot a safe and stimulating path through the discourse is a challenge but crucial for brands of all sizes. On top of that, finding efficiencies within an industry that is developing at break-neck speed is as exciting as it is daunting and I relish the opportunity of being a part of it.
You’re a journalist for a day: what would you cover?
Easy, football economics and business. I used to write scripts for a YouTube channel called TifoFootball about exactly that and I loved how they illustrated the words into informative short videos.
How does journalism matter to you?
I think stories and narratives are the bedrock of modern culture.
With the evolution of how media is now consumed to a more deregulated and ‘pro-choice’ economy, there is an interesting discussion to be had about what these developments have done to produce what feels like a more fractious discourse while holding up the benefits of freedom of speech and diversity of voices.
I think traditional journalism is an important ‘clean room’ that filters out much of the negatives like fake news and irrelevant noise.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Obvious answer, but mum and dad.
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
As is becoming a bit of a theme, I’d love to pick the brains of Sir Alex Ferguson, Brain Clough (if he was still with us) and David Goldblatt on football. Also, I’m a big fan of Sandi Toksvig, Mo Gilligan and Tom Hardy so throw them into the mix as well.
How do you switch off from work?
I’m a big fan of walking holidays and going on runs, if my glass ankles stop giving up on me. Other than the obvious spectator sport, I got really into Formula 1 and cricket over lockdown and I’m trying to branch out into the NFL and NBA.
If you weren’t in the advertising industry, you would be…?
Being paid to watch football. That is my life goal and I’ll get there, someway, somehow.
Gym or gin?
Both, although preferably not at the same time.