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By Julie Anne Bailie

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 its worldview?

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

31 Bruce St, Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7JD T: +44 (0) 28 9033 1044   F: +44 (0) 28 9033 1622   E: