Meet Me in Trondheim

Next Wednesday I’m speaking at the Centre for Gender Research, part of Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim Norway.

Wish me lykke til.

PercentsMy presentation explores 5 years of Red Books (Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies) data regarding the gendered composition of advertising creative departments worldwide. Using data from 50 countries and regions, from 2012 through 2016, the study reveals embedded and systemic global gender segregation in advertising creative department. This work is framed by signaling, critical mass and creative system’s theories. It demonstrates pervasive and systemic horizontal and vertical gender segregation within advertising creative departments. Specifically, these data quantify the underrepresentation of women in advertising creative departments, demonstrating a global average of only 23.5% women working within advertising creative departments, and with only 16.1% women in creative management. I will also drill down on data from Scandinavian countries and include qualitative data from a recently published study on Swedish women working in advertising creative women. Trend analyses predict a modest increase in women creatives in advertising creative departments in the coming years – but, I’d say, the only way to go is up.


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Time’s Up Advertising

Today 180 women from advertising’s C-suites partnered with Time’s Up to form Time’s Up/Advertising. In their open letter to the industry they said, in part, “it’s on us to foster a workplace where people are challenged but still respected. Sexual harassment is not OK. Never. No exceptions. No amount of talent, missed cues, or being great in the room unchecks the No Sexual Harassment box.” Their mission:

“To drive new policies, practices, decisions and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment and abuse; and create equitable and safe cultures within our agencies.”

times Up List

Community meetings will be held May 14 in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in which all women in advertising are invited with three goals in mind:

Commit to creating solutions that work, starting with examining the processes and policies that have failed us.
Identify and mentor people representing diversity across the board and who are ready to become agency leaders.
Adoption of progressive agency training and education that brings this discussion and its solutions out into the open in our agencies.
It’s been a long time coming. Now let’s keep it going. #TIMESUPADVERTISING

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Women in Advertising Leadership are on the Rise

A recent article in the Drum showcased a database featured on “Where are all the boss ladies.” It highlights who the women are, where they are and the roles they play. The women range from founders, CEOs, partners, presidents to heads of creative, strategy, production and account services. It’s pretty damn impressive.


Malika Favre/bossladies.come

The list was started by Mara Lecocq, a freelance creative director. The project evolved from an Instagram account exploring her personal question, ‘What would it be like if I had a female boss?” Working with agency recruiters who focused on women in director-level positions the list evolved from Mara’s initial 10 to nearly 450. There is also a separate list for women of color – a truly brilliant addition.


I’ve been digging around Red Books. I collected five years of data, with my co-author, Tony Deng. Here’s the skinny – in the industry’s own words. Globally there are only 23.5% women working in creative and women make up just 16.1% of those managing creative. In the U.S. the numbers aren’t a lot better. Here there only 26.1% women working in creative and just 17.5% of the people managing creative are women.

It’s Women’s History Month. Let’s celebrate our progress. Then let’s keep going.

Jean Grow

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A Wake to Carry Others Forward

Today, Wendy Clark was promoted to DDB’s Global CEO. She’s the first woman to lead an Omnicom network. Clark said, “It’s not lost on me that I’m carrying a lot of people with me. It’s never about the impact that one person can make. It has to be about creating a wake around me that’s way bigger than just my success, and I will have every intention of doing that.”


Knowing that the industry will be watching she added, “I want to use this position to create more opportunity for more women.”

Let’s hope.


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CSR Gone Mad in an Unmemorable Super Bowl

This was the Super Bowl of CSR gone mad. It seemed nearly every brand was touting its corporate social responsibility. Problem was—the brands all merged into one big warm and fuzzy nothingness. Despite Bud’s standing by me, the overload of CSR made me miss the Clydesdales.

One brand that got it right was Toyota, in part because of its placements right out of the box and to close. Its variety of warm and fuzzy fit with the brand’s positioning and the tag, “when we’re free to move anything is possible,” leveraged it well, not to mention its strategic tie-in to the upcoming Olympics.

Dodge Ram did a nice job with the MLK voice over, but the timing was all wrong and looked gratuitous. Ram’s Paul Harvey voice over, “and god created the farmer,” from 2104 was stellar. But, its 2018. Timing is everything. And the Vikings dragging a ship rocking to an old music bed only to turn around when they hit Minneapolis. Okay, maybe it works for “built for the unexpected.” But seriously is Ram the epic brand that harkens back to American heroes with a heroic America brand or are they… Vikings? Really?!

Two other notables were Jeep and Musinex. Jeep actually showed the manifesto. Short and sweet, and spot on. While Musinex, and its single well-placed spot, captured the close while leveraging social media perfectly.

The Gen-Zers I was watching with loved the M&Ms spot with Danny Divito. And I have to admit if there is one person that can embody an M&M, it’s Divito.

As for what missed the mark. I’m not sure why laundry detergent was so hot this year, and how they all got it so wrong. Worst was Persil’s stupid pot innuendo. Turbo tax with its slimy stupid animal under the bed, I didn’t realize teens and t’weens filed taxes. Bud Light’s mediaeval stupidity, with a bunch of white guys and with three token women. It’s 2018, are we really still doing this kind of insipid humor and spending millions on it? Wendy’s take-on of McDonald’s frozen burgers was a bust. I couldn’t read it fast enough and Millennial and Gen-Z stopping stopped reading a long time ago. So, who was it they were targeting?

Or maybe the question should be, whose creating these spots? I think it’s about time the industry expands the diversity of ideas within creative departments.

Overall, a highly unmemorable Super Bowl, except for the game. But, maybe, that’s how it’s supposed to be.


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#MeToo Milwaukee Women

Tune in to “10thirtysix” (channel 10, PBS MKE) at 9 p.m. January 18. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the ‪#metoo movement.


This segment focuses on women in Milwaukee in c-level suite positions — woman with “agency.” Next month the series will explore voices of American minority women, who are often more vulnerable to harassment and its effects. If you missed it, here’s a link.


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Advertising’s Little White Lie

While there’s little research on the lack of women in creative roles, there’s even less on diversity issues. The sad truth is, advertising employs less than five percent people of color and then, you’ll find them largely working in the multicultural agencies not the general market shops. I admit this is an educated guess, because the industry will not release diversity data. I’m working to change that. With a faculty fellowship from Marquette’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I’ll be traveling to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami, this spring, to conduct ethnographic research and interviews within multicultural ad agencies and general market agencies.

Why does any of this matter?

It matters to me as a human being who wants equity and the opportunity for all. We need all voices to be heard so that advertising messages don’t perpetuate racism and sexism. It also matters to me as a practitioner who understands that diversity is good for business. A diversity of voices leads to better creativity and stronger ROI.

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The lack of diversity in advertising is EXACTLY why Dove, today, made a major brand misstep. Showing Black women transformed into light Brown or White women is appalling. And why did it happen? I’ll bet my retirement account on the fact there were no people of color in the decision-making process nor were there any present as this went up the decision-making food chain. I also doubt there were not many women making decisions as it went up. Women and people of color are invisible in advertising management.

In short, the lack of diversity in advertising is not just bad for Black and Brown people and women, it’s bad for business. “Wake up advertising.”



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