2 Minutes With … Andre Gray, CCO at Annex88

Creative adventures from Adidas in space to 'A Dream Come True' at CultureCon

San Francisco-raised but NYC-born, Andre G. Gray spent the bulk of his career in Europe, logging five years in Paris and three years in Amsterdam, where he was global lead on Adidas and Gatorade. He has run the gamut of clients, from whole cities to Ultraboosts, leading global campaigns and recently winning accounts like Las Vegas Tourism, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Kraken Rum.

Gray is current chief creative officer at Annex88, the agency formerly known as The 88, acquired by Havas in 2017. He is the author of Digital Anthropomorphism: Humanizing the Brand and is a staunch advocate for underrepresented voices through work like Black Madison Avenue and lives to add to the cultural conversation.

We spent two minutes with Andre to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.


Andre, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Grew up in San Francisco, going to Lycée Français. Live in Bed-Stuy.

How you first realized you were creative.

It wasn't really a realization as such. Outside of this industry, creativity comes from a lack of resources. There are things you want to do. You have to figure out how to make them possible. Creatively.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Pharrell, Thierry Henry, Kobe, Jerry Rice, Marc Jacobs.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

In high school I wrote an article about how the decision to get dreads or not was a life-or-death decision—because of the state of things in San Francisco at the time. It wasn't really intended to be received, more as an outlet for processing what I was feeling about what should be a very flippant decision and a very culturally rooted one as a first-generation Guyanese American. It was published on Salon.com, which was a crazy form of validation. Like "people care about the same things I am working through…" 

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Tremaine Emory. From my vantage point he is using brand platforms to tell stories to aid in the process of generational healing. That's peak. 

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I read it for the first time a long time ago. But it's always inspiring. Every time.

Your favorite fictional character.

Axel Foley—Eddie Murphy from Beverly Hills Cop. Probably my favorite movie of all time.

Someone or something worth following in social media.

@resmaamenakem—and read his book, MY GRANDMOTHER'S HANDS. He talks about the generational transmission of racial trauma and how we acknowledge that which we have inherited corporally and how we do the work to let it go.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Covid-19 brought us to a collective standstill of attention, which was needed to collectively acknowledge the true state of the world from a racial POV. That has changed everything. For all of us. 

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

With Adidas, we sent a shoe to the International Space Station. That was pretty special.

A recent project you're proud of.

At Annex88, we just sponsored @culturecon NYC, bringing the story of CultureCon and the birth of The Creative Collective NYC to life through "A Dream Come True." It was a great honor to support a movement like CultureCon that we really believe in and to see how heartfelt an idea can come across when it is built with intention, conceptual integrity and heart. We rallied around it, and it is proof of how we want to approach projects as we build this agency. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Karrelle Dixon. I always admired how he was moving. I went on to have the pleasure of meeting him and having him become a mentor. Blessed for that. 

Someone else's work you admired lately.

What Coperni did with Bella Hadid at Fashion Week was mind-blowing, to be able to continue to innovate with technology in a way that tells a story and isn't just first to a market with the latest gimmick. Hard to really innovate in storied mediums like fashion. That was legendary. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

Court vision.

Your biggest weakness.

Misinterpretation.

One thing that always makes you happy.

My wife @scarlettrosegray.

One thing that always makes you sad.

When people don't cut snip the threads from the vents on their suit jackets.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I'd probably be a professor. Though I will probably be one next semester anyways.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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