Advertising is already proving to be a window on our brave new post COVID world – it influences what we eat, what cars we drive, what perfume and clothes we wear and what financial services we buy. Yet, is the picture still largely being painted and guided by men?
I was invited to host and curate a panel discussion as part of The Future of Creativity, a virtual conference taking place this week 14th and 15th October, which proved to be the perfect opportunity to examine how equal the creative process is in our new world order.
As the title suggests, women are changing the advertising industry by taking the lead in depicting a more open, diverse and caring society and using their creative influence. It’s not so subtle either.
For example, we are seeing more feminine references in mainstream advertising, including graphic depictions of vaginas, to open narratives about periods, menopause and incontinence. As women we are more free than ever to talk about our bodies and minds, so is this contributing to more acceptance of our creative worth?
I created Funny Women 18 years ago to improve the gender balance on the comedy circuit and two years ago I launched the HERlarious initiative as I saw parallels in the way female creatives were being sidelined in advertising, much as female comics were, and still are, in our industry. Today this is a community of brilliant performers, writers and creators who can direct, animate and depict the world as it really is – 50% female – so why not more female creative direction?
I also believe that women are true ‘agents for change’ and often take the lead in adversity – we are not just the ‘caretakers’ but the creators which is why we are seeing this feminine seed change in advertising now at crisis point.
Yet, while this happens on one level there’s lots of evidence to support the fact that lockdown has impacted on women far more catastrophically than men. For example, domestic violence has increased, women are more commonly expected to take the lead on caring and educating their children and more women have lost jobs in the lower paid sector and gig economy.
To discuss this and more I brought together four female visionaries from the media and advertising industry:
Our discussion is mind-boggling, like Jane Ostler of Kantar’s research findings on women and leadership, and inspirational, as with Lucie Cave’s campaigning for better and more open understanding of mental health issues in the workplace. Lisa Goodchild talks candidly about the need for young men as well as young women to have strong female role models and Karen Carter explores stereotyping and the need to have a ‘thick skin’ in the advertising industry.
You can listen to us talking about this and more on Thursday 15th October, from 9.05-9.45am by registering for the conference, free of charge, here.
The full conference agenda is available here.
The Future of Creativity is run by Mediatel Events, a global leader in delivering world-class leadership forums, networking opportunities and information sharing to the television, media, adtech, telecoms and advertising industry.
You may also like to check out:
Where’s Your Head At and #pledgekindness for World Mental Health Day, Saturday 10th October.
Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer – the leading syndicated study on how the pandemic is influencing consumer behaviour, attitudes and expectations.
Digirise takes 40 young people twice a year to introduce them to entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship.
McKinsey Global Institute on how advancing women’s equality adds global growth.
The Drum on changing the debate around gender equality.
‘She Said More’ – a report by Dr. Cath Sleeman created by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) in partnership with Nesta
Image from Bodyform #wombstories commercial.