Stanley Hainsworth, Creative Director of Starbucks. Goodson Does The People – Lunchtime Chats

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by: Scott Goodson

I want to do a confrere-to-confrere interview series on this blog. Nothing too serious, just chats with the those people out there who are the most interesting and wonderful minds in the advertising and culture business. Sounds like fun, no? Not necessarily the media darlings or the most famous names, but just people I like and admire and learn from.

So in the first of these kinda off the cuff lunch time chats, I took the time to catch up with Stanley Hainsworth, Vice President and Global Creative Director for Starbucks Coffee Company, which, in addition to selling coffee, markets music, books and movies in Starbucks shops, on its web site, and in partnership with iTUNES and XM radio. The company also hosts Starbucks Salons, ” nomadic interactive coffeehouses” which feature gallery and performance spaces–the first opened in Park City, Utah, in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival–that travel from city to city across the United States. Before Starbucks, Stanley led the creative work for some of the world’s most iconic brands such as Nike and Lego where he did a total vision overhaul. Wherever he goes, he creates life-long friends and fans. I was speaking recently with Andrew Black, CEO of Virgin Mobile Canada and former colleague, who talked at length about how incredible a creative mind Stanley is.

So, let’s look inside his head – and what a head it is!

Hello Stanley. Tell me about your life?

I grew up in a small town in Western Kentucky, right between Possum Trot and Monkey’s Eyebrow, which taught me an appreciation for multiple retail options. Thumbing through the pages of Creem and Crawdaddy magazines in a basement bedroom in my small southern town I learned all I know about fashion and theatricality from the New York Dolls and Aladdin Sane era Bowie.

Tell me about your career?

After pursuing an acting career, busking on street corners and writing for several years I decided that I would apply all I’d learned to a new trade where I would still be free to explore multiple facial hair options. After several years at Nike as a Creative Director and then in Denmark at the Lego Company as their Global Creative Director I returned to the states to work for a company named after the first mate in Moby Dick – Starbucks. As their current vp global creative I’m going on 20 years of practice on how to connect a consumer emotionally with a product.

Great people and work?

Nike Presto Gallery in the meatpacking district back when there was still meat, for the simple audacity of calling retail art. Lego retail stores all based on a simple 2×4 stud red brick. Starbucks Salons for the intersection of community and entertainment.

Greatest lessons?

It’s never right the first or second time. Always the third . . . but then you go back to the first version and realize that you were right after all.

Stuff no one knows about?

Eye cream and more shoes than are socially acceptable for a male are my beauty secrets

The future…..where’s it all heading?

The consumer-generated content will become so pablumized that we will crave the master’s hand to create something memorable again.

What defines you?

When I put on a hat, no one recognizes me. So, sadly or not, my hair.

Spiritual home?

My family

What are you up to now?

Writing a few books, planning the future, scheming to work with everyone I’ve ever wanted to work with.

Who are your heroes in life?

My grandmother who did everything she ever wanted to and anyone who’s ever stepped off the ledge and started their own business.

5 yrs from now?

All entertainment will be branded and all brands will be entertaining.

Who will survive and thrive?

Survival will be those that imitate others. Thriving will be those who can continually reinvent themselves.

Who will die?

Those that die will be those that had one great idea but, that was it.

What are the greatest challenges for the ad/marcomms industry?

Greatest challenges will be widespread homogenization – to keep each brand from looking like every other brand.

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