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Truth

Our Global Head of Creative and Content offers some truths for women in the creative industries.

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I’d like to talk about my breasts and my vagina... and how ideas come from them.

I’m a woman who has worked in creative for the best part of 10 years. A woman who sits in front of clients every day of the week and tells them what to say, how to say it best and (as the Global Head of Audio Creative and Content) I even give them the voice with which to say it. But as I sit here thinking about International Women’s Day 2018, my voice feels as though it has momentarily vacated the building.

Fortunately, I have an idea why that is. So, like any creative facing a tricky brief, I’m going to pour a glass of red and attempt to draw out the fundamental truth. This won’t be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever written, not even close, but it will be honest. And I’d like to address the following words in this article to the youngest member of my team, Aishah. A truly spectacular human who inspires me every day (and as she’s just turned 23, I have the urban dictionary tab open and ready to go).

I don’t want to use IWD as an opportunity to “throw shade” because there’s enough darkness lingering across the advertising industry in 2018. Instead I’d like to focus on how we support this year’s theme ‘#pressforprogress’ and share six fundamental truths with you about what I have learned as a female creative.

The truth of why my words are not as free flowing as the Pinot Noir next to me is that I am allowing myself to become frozen by the idea of perfection. My creative advice to clients is to accept that exposing your vulnerability is fundamental to creating authentic connections, and yet I’m stuck on the idea that I have to say exactly the right thing. Add to this that equality and diversity within creativity is something I care about so deeply, and suddenly the enormity of the pressure becomes almost paralyzing.

1. Never let yourself stand still through fear of not being perfect. It’s a manmade construct.

If we take a step back and begin to deconstruct this thought process, women have been conditioned into this way of thinking for centuries. We’ve been taught by stories and movies and advertising that we should be perfect in every way or suffer the judgement of everyone else on the planet. And it was this fear of judgement that was uncovered as the insight that drove the groundbreaking ‘This Girl Can’ campaign for Sport England. A campaign that carved out a new way of speaking to women in an attempt to close up the 1.8 million gender gap in sports.

You see, no matter how powerful or successful or intelligent we are, the years of being sold an idea has us hardwired to feel like little girls playing a supporting role (we’ve basically been “negged” by mass media since mass media began).

Creative directors skew 78% male which will inevitably lead to a bias in how we view ourselves.

2. Creativity needs equality and diversity to help future generations value themselves.

Never forget that the story we are repeatedly told alters our perception. And our perception is our truth.

The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign schooled us all on how to get it right. It created a huge shift within advertising to start speaking to women in a different way. Since then every brand across the board, from Marks and Spencers to LinkedIn, has tried to move away from the aspirational towards the empowering.

Aishah: you’ve joined the industry as it’s being overhauled and this means that your voice is more valuable now than ever before.

3. How you think and what you say matters.

When I started in creative, there was a culture of patronising communications aimed at both men and women. The last 5 years has been a real game-changer but there are still a lot of old dinosaurs out there. As a female creative I’ve had some interesting experiences.

I’ve had the men in the room thanked for my ideas. I’ve had a creds deck being presented to me in a new job by a senior exec, giggling and pretending I was a client working for a sex-toy company. I’ve had assumptions that I was selected as a D&AD judge because they ‘had’ to have a woman on the jury. I’ve been literally shouted at that ‘I wasn’t a mother’ so didn’t understand the demographic of mothers (incidentally I’ve written for almost every car dealership in the South East, driving record results for each and every one of them and I’ve never driven a car in my life).

Aishah: I don’t want you to go through that and as your boss, I give you full permission to call bullshit on it if it happens.

4. The dinosaurs died out for a reason.

2017 was the year I got woke. 2018 was the year I learnt what “getting woke” meant, when we produced ‘We Exist’: an intersectional podcast for The Women’s Equality Party.

2018 is the year that we celebrate 100 years of women getting the vote, but as Liv Little rightly pointed out in the podcast, it was only a very small number of women who were allowed to vote and this did not represent equality for women of colour. I found the question of whether we should be celebrating this an interesting one, but ultimately agreed with Helen Pankhurst that it was important to celebrate any form of progress in order to honour the women who had pressed for it in our history.

There’s a lot to wake up to in the world of gender equality, but at Red Apple Creative, we’re truly lucky to have such a great team with an equal gender split. This allows us to be as balanced as possible when we are putting our creative ideas out into the world, for better work, more effective campaigns and (most importantly) a balanced approach to how we encourage audiences to perceive themselves. I wanted to write something on International Women’s Day because it’s a day that matters and because creative women owe it to themselves to have their ideas heard. But further to this, I promise that Red Apple will commit to the creation of a series of work and events across this centenary year in order to continually press for progress.

5. Nothing is more important to innovation and creativity than equal share of voice.

Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you, Aishah, for using your voice every day and for helping me to find mine when it’s lost.

You are a true inspiration to myself and the rest of your team.

So to you and to every young woman in the creative industries, keep “slaying” it.

6. Never stop being a boss.

#pressforprogress

Kathleen Moroney,

Global Head of Creative and Content

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