It may strike you as slightly incongruous that advertising, as a business which is in
continual pursuit of ultimate balance - be it of copy and image, headline and logo or
sound design and picture - is in itself so inherently unbalanced.
Where else, other than in the agency creative department, are females so under-represented,
despite making up more than half the students in the courses which feed creative departments?
Only 17% of copywriters and 14% of art directors are female with only two female creative directors
in any top twenty agency.
The answer of course is the creative awards jury where, every now and again, a token female is
invited to cast her vote on ideas overwhelmingly created by the boys, for the boys and so it goes on….
In a nutshell, mainly male creative teams create ads from an almost exclusively male perspective which are
then judged by an almost totally male jury.
The lack of balance is clearly very cosy- for some.
While the pool table culture in the creative department props up the somewhat loaded atmosphere
which prevails, the question needs to be asked - just how balanced is the impact of the work
emerging from this bastion of male self-expression?
Could it be ignoring or alienating the massive purchasing power of female consumers?
It would appear from research that the gender cross-influence on branded purchase decisions runs
75% female, 25% male - why therefore are clients signing off creativity which is over 90% male in
You can alter this imbalance a little by changing the structure of your agency (our board is
split 50/50 male/female, as is its senior management) or you can alter it a lot by changing
the structure of your agency's creative teams.
There is nothing quite like a male/female creative partnership when it comes to injecting a
sense of real balance into the imaginative process.
This is not without pain. The male mindset cannot engage with the female mindset without friction
- the clash of two entirely different need states. In the case of two creative personalities of
different genders, it becomes a case of "iron sharpeneth iron", as the proverb puts it. But the
result is a tougher, more enduring style of creativity - not the transience of a laddish joke.
I have debated, argued, fought with my creative partner through a decade of ideas whose truth has
stood not just the test of time, but even that of most creative juries!
It amazes me that clients continue to accept mono-sexual, gender-dysfunctional creative work…..
unless of course they are all playing pool too?
Julie Anne Bailie
Executive Creative Director