After walking the Woman’s March in New York on Saturday 21st January, I was inspired to not only think about woman’s rights in general, but about women in advertising.
I’ll begin with a little historical recap as we all know woman’s rights have come a long way, and we should remember this, its good for the soul.
Around 1910 JWT created an all-female copywriting team in the Women's Editorial Department, carefully and meticulously crafted female targeted ads. Take Helen Lansdowne’s ad she created for the Woodbury Soap Company ad as an example, it ranked 31st on Advertising Age's list of the top 100 campaigns of the 20th Century.
By the 1960s, women were being occasionally spotted around the workplace, in teams no less; even when creative teams were still a relatively new idea. Elisabeth Moss’ portrayal of ‘Peggy Olson’ in AMC's Mad Men might give you an idea of what it was like.
Here’s a few highlights that spring to mind and have perhaps had the biggest impact on my career. In the 90s, Tiger Savage famously co-created ‘The Lynx Effect’ at BBH. Setting the standard for #1 Christmas boxset staple for every 15 year-old boy – practically forever! In 2004, Ogilvy & Mather created the first brand to use ‘non-models’ with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. 2015 saw Rosie Arnold celebrate 30 years in the ad world and in 2016, Hello Thinx actually came up with a grown-up look and feel to talk to woman about periods, finally allowing people to talk about that thing no-one wanted to talk about and avoiding using blue or green liquid to justify the benefit.
So it’s fair to say women have making their mark on the ad scene for well over a century, if not setting the precedent for the industry in certain cases. But… and it’s a big but, a study in 2014* revealed just 11% of Creative Directors in the US were female – a marginal rise from a study in 2010* which showed a mere 3% of the industry were female*.
*Both studies performed by 3percentconf.com
3%! I was gobsmacked. So, why the slow progression? Why is there still such a serious lack of #girlboss and female Creative Directors?
To shed some light on the situation we performed our own study last year with Creative Equals to see if we could figure it out (bedtime reading for the keen: //youngcreativecouncil.com/uncategorized/creative-equals-the-results/)
Well, here’s where we rounded out …It begins at the bottom (figuratively), a low starting wage; on average being paid 14.2% less than the males in the same role, a lack of agency support when the time comes for you to have children, and a significantly less female role models for to look up to; people who identify and understand the same shit you have to deal with.
Quite frankly, we need to get motivated, we need to march. If not for ourselves for the future ladies in Adland. We need to support those flying the flag, this isn’t about burning bras, this is simply about standing up for ourselves. How do I do that you ask? Getting involved with the likes of SheSays (who crowned long-term YCC supporter, Casey Bird, as their first President at the beginning of the year); honourable mention to Creative Equals who do are Ambassadors for change and helped us take the issue to The Guardian and of course, the 3% Conference, trying to do something about well… that pesky 3%!
Without tooting our own trumpet, our ‘orrible lot, The Young Creative Council, the current core YCC team, is made up of a total 17 creatives and a whopping 11 of those are female! (I only truly realised this when writing this article) …Not to mention our hoard of regulars, long-term supporters and those who actively still support us but are elsewhere in the world.
If you need any inspiration, I would start by following this lovely lot:
Vicki Maguire | ECD of Grey London
Laila Milborrow | Creative at Karmarama
Hollie Newton | ECD of Sunshine
Casey Bird | President of SheSays
Hollie Fraser | Founder of Books on the Underground
Lydia Pang | Creative Director at Refinery29
Laurie Lee Burley | Leather and typography artist
And our very own Scarlett Montanaro | Founder of Crack + Cider with Charley Cramer
Feel free to add any suggestions in the comments section below!
So March. Not just one day in a year. But everyday.
March into the office and delivery the ideas that scare the other creatives.
March into that meeting and get your ideas bought.
March and demand the same wage as your creative male counterpart.
March to be put on the briefs that don’t require hair swishing.
March to be your own role model and support other women around you that need that extra help.
It’s that march that will go on to make things better in advertising - and beyond. If you’re fortunate and/or determined enough to become a Creative Director, things might just be a little bit better for you and for everyone.
Give us a shout of ideas that you think might help change the status quo. And as always all of us ladies at the YCC can be found in the contacts section, if you want to ask any questions or need any help.
See you on the daily march.
Image Header Credit: fashionaddictbitch.tumblr.com