By Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa (Founder & Creative Director, PixInk)
It’s kind of ironic to think that creative directors at advertising agencies who typically market to women are mostly men.
I recently had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the 3% Conference, an event devoted to female creative directors.
While 97% of male creative directors put together advertising concepts, these messages usually reach women, who drive a whopping 80% of purchasing decisions. The numbers point to a serious need for change in the industry — namely, more women are needed in it. But not just so both sexes are represented in the boardroom… so marketing is more effective, too!
The conference, masterminded by Kat Gordon explored the advertising climate as a whole — along with how and where women fit in.
Leveraging Women’s Natural Talent
In the digital arena, it involves storytelling and relationship building along with technology, to reach multiple channels. Involving women in these developments gives clients the chance to take advantage of women’s’ strengths, such as storytelling and relationship cultivation.
Tom Jordan, author of Re-render The Gender: Why The Vast Majority Of Advertising Is Not Connecting With Women, spoke as part of the “Guys Who Get It” panel. It was nice to hear a man’s perspective acknowledging the fact that the industry has to change in order for the best ideas to emerge. He said clients should demand that agencies put more women in their businesses so campaigns can better engage consumers. Even if a product is not female specific, women are natural storytellers and can often bring across those components of a campaign quite well.
Carol Williams of CHWA moderated a panel with Stanford’s Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, executive coach Barbara Mack, Ad Recruiter’s Christie Cordes, and The Martin Agency’s Lauren Tucker. During it, Nishiura Mackenzie made a striking point when she said that women who choose to be dominant and decisive or nurturing and friendly, depending on the situation, are promoted more often than men who are only decisive and dominant.
Message received: women’s innate ability to foster relationships wins out not only in marketing campaigns, but also in the workplace as a whole.
Innate Collaboration A Plus
One of the key takeaways from the How Digital Differs panel that I moderated was that clients are starting to understand the importance of “embedding” digital agencies into their companies.
For campaigns across multiple channels, agencies need to form more collaborative dynamics internally to produce such campaigns. In doing so, digital elements become “experience platforms” that allow for more creative styles to come to the table. This doesn’t have to do with women versus men, but it does indicate the need to create more of an experience — again, that notion of fostering instead of just producing is where women come in.
As a female creative director myself, I know that more men today are aware of the industry’s need to take advantage of all that females bring to the business table. That said, there is still more to be done so female creative directors make up much, much more than just 3%. In addition to a wonderful event, the conference launched a dialog that will get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Women 2.0 readers: How can we change the ratio of women creative directors faster? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based digital design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive over 80% of purchase decisions. She nurtures emerging brands and strengthens iconic ones through powerful design, insight and a deep understanding of the female consumer. PixInk’s microagency structure works extremely well for Apple and Facebook, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @ayeshamathews.
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