A staple of movies for decades has been the female ingénue. Everyone from Lauren Bacall to Anne Hathaway has taken on the role. We quietly hope for their triumph and, as society has changed in their view of women, so has the arc of these characters. Thirty years ago, success might have meant a comfortable place in suburbia whereas now it means standing shoulder to shoulder with the famous and powerful. Part of the reason for this popularity is that we all secretly want to prove that we can enter in to a tough environment, conquer it, and earn the respect of our peers. There is a power that women have increasingly owned over the last couple of decades; no one displays that more accurately than Kate Mahon.
Making her mark in the advertising world with her exemplary work as an Art Buyer and Creative Producer with Saatchi & Saatchi, Kate has used the famous from the world of politics and film to bring record breaking campaigns to fruition for many companies, but also used advertising imagery to change the way the public views themselves. She still finds time to champion social causes with her talents and connections…all the while setting a tone for her career that proves one only need view her as a true leader in her industry. While some advertisers like to rely on the easily accessible “characters” that are staples, Kate Mahon has made her mark by presenting advertisers with images that defy these and present a modern option that markets with reality.
Almost fifteen years ago, Kate Mahon was looking for a job that would foster her creative outlet and give her some variety and excitement. When a friend recommended her for a position at Saatchi & Saatchi in London; it seemed interesting. She had always loved photography and her friends who were involved in similar roles in advertising always seemed to be doing something interesting. It seemed like an interesting way to spend some time if you are a young lady in London. Ms. Mahon never expected it to turn into something that would have such massive impact on her life, or conversely that she would impact so greatly. She travelled Europe as an Art Buyer for Saatchi & Saatchi, researching photographers to build up the company’s database of fresh and visionary artists. This experience laid the groundwork for Kate’s ideals of adding new images to challenge the public’s view of what they might find intriguing and appealing. As Kate began to prove herself, she was promoted to Head Art Buyer and Creative Producer. Saatchi & Saatchi’s Chief Creative Officer Kate Stanners hand-picked Mahon for this promotion and boasts of Kate’s gifts and achievements stating, “Kate Mahon was undeniably a leader to our organization and to our numerous productions as she led a team of artists and photographers in creating vibrant, highly detailed print and digital campaigns for well-known, and world renowned brands and companies.” The direction of one of the most highly successful campaigns which Kate’s team produced was with banking service HSBC. True to form with much of Kate’s work, rather than focusing on the material possessions that many financers use in advertising, the ads chose to present a focus on how your life could be more simple and free to enjoy the basic pleasures. The images displayed were those of universally accepted tranquility and ownership of your own time rather than possessing an object. The images were so universal that HSBC has used them globally up to the present day.
As Kate’s role at Saatchi & Saatchi increased, so did her work with celebrities. Sometimes the creative part of Ms. Mahon’s personality fused public interest to pop media with a dash of humor. Another highly successful campaign of hers was for Direct Line insurance. Oscar nominated actor Harvey Keitel revised his role in Reservoir Dogs to become Mr. Wolfe, an insurance “fixer” for home owners and others. Although this series of ads was a whimsical break, Mahon continued to use celebrities like Gold Medalists Jessica Ennis (Olay campaign) and Michael Phelps (Head and Shoulders campaign) to ground her work in a more reality based theater. Sometimes the focus is completely reality based such as in the 2007 Labour Party campaign that Kate oversaw. Simple and direct images helped to communicate a message that was drastically different from the universal appeal of much of Kate’s other work…yet somehow infused with Kate’s trademark relatable images.
Working with politicians, celebrities, and athletes, all in coordination with creative photographers and illustrators is a lot to manage. Often times the photographers are icons in their world. Kate has worked with the best of them including; Annie Leibovitz, David Ryle, and Martien Mulder. Mark Norcutt, Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director declares his admiration for Ms. Mahon’s work, “Kate’s impressive negotiation skills and wide knowledge of photographers allowed her to pull in the best in the field to work on campaigns. Her extensive knowledge of photography genres also meant she was able to attract photographers with specific skills, resulting in massive success for many international clients.” Although Kate duties include researching talent, negotiating production costs, wardrobe, and other aspects…it is the adventure and challenge of it all that she truly loves. She reveals, “Finding the right people for a campaign is crucial. I might travel to Shanghai, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Abu Dhabi, or LA. When you produce something with so many creative people involved, with varying budgets and schedules…and there are no weaknesses…the result is quite rewarding. From a girl who was simply looking for adventure to having so many once in a lifetime opportunities…taking a chance at a career as an Art Buyer/Creative Director was a great choice.” Kate Mahon continues her career assuming this role at Proximity where she delves into digital platforms and social media. Kate Mahon; even today approaching with the wide-eyed outlook of the ingénue, but with the wisdom of a seasoned and successful veteran in the world of advertising imagery.
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