The recent fiascos involving the California Milk Processor Board and Summer’s Eve put an exclamation point on the continuing debate surrounding the alleged lack of women holding power positions within the advertising industry.
In both cases, the responsible dimwits insisted the offensive campaigns were inspired by research and insight. However, they seem oblivious to the reality that research and insight are useless if adpeople don’t know how to interpret it, and turn it into relevant, relatable and breakthrough messages. Stan Richards reported that in-house multicultural experts approved his agency’s campaign. But did The Richards Group or Goodby, Silverstein & Partners ask female experts to vet the sexist and insulting bullshit?
Sure, some might argue that the Summer’s Eve “Hail to the V” campaign was co-created by an adwoman. Based on viewing The Richards Group’s leadership, however, it would be hard to argue that females are not minorities in the shop. So it can’t be easy for a woman to exert authority and credibility in such an environment—which, incidentally, is a pretty typical environment for Madison Avenue.
The challenges to addressing the “dearth of dames” issue are multifold. For starters, there is not consensus among women regarding the root problem—or that a problem even exists. Certain women say, “We need mentors.” Others insist there’s not enough qualified talent. Still others claim women make life choices that prohibit moving upward in agencies. And female leaders have actually remarked the glass ceiling is a thing of the past. Yeah, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Yet on Madison Avenue, the ladies apparently can’t make up their minds at all.
Equally troubling are the invisible men. That is, when was the last time anyone heard a male leader publicly weigh in on the matter? The Neil French debacle took place in October 2005, and the Old Boys’ Club has been relatively quiet since then. Interestingly enough, there were flashes of relevant conversation in a comment thread at AgencySpy. While blog visitors ripped the latest creative honcho to join Draftfcb, someone asked why CCO candidates “have to be balding/bald, early 40’s men who have slightly eccentric backgrounds.” The question set off a range of replies including:
I think Joyce King Thomas, Sally Hogshead, Diane Rothschild, Helayne Spivak and a whole lot of others just choked on your ignorance. Nobody is holding you down just because you are a woman. Get over yourself and do some good work.
There are plenty of successful women in advertising. You do not have much of a point.
Oh God. Leave gender out of it and you’ll go farther.
You do realize the highest paid person in advertising during the 1960s was a woman, right? Women have been on top, there are women on top. If you’re a woman and you’re not on top, you only have you to blame. Go make a kick-ass project that will make your client spend money they don’t have and get noticed.
Because women, generally, do not have the inclination to dedicate their lives to their career like men do. As proven by many, many studies of time spent on the job in a variety of industries.
Note: this does not make one gender better than the other. It points to different priorities.
But many people don’t want to hear that. A very simple investigation reveals that there is very little evidence of any gender discrimination in the workplace *all things being equal. Simply put, women are much more likely to become (who woulda thunk it) Mommies and/or experience a shift in priorities. Sure, some end up “doing it all,” but basic human gender differences explain 99% of any discrepancy in pay and position. Still, for some, correlation automatically equals causation, and we have to waste our time arguing about things that have already been successfully argued about.
The vast majority of people killed in wars are males, but I don’t see women clamoring to register for the draft or fight on the front lines.
92% of people who die on the job are men, but I don’t see women clamoring to be coal miners or prison guards or whatever other dangerous job.
I guess women only want equality when it is a cushy job in the front office.
You know what? The work of Kara Goodrich and Sally Hogshead alone proves women can do anything men can do creatively.
But you know what else? I would be very hesitant to hire a woman in her child-bearing years into a management position in an agency I owned. Creative? Sure. ECD? Probably not.
A woman who’s already had kids and has a stay-at-home husband? Absolutely.
And I think most other men feel the same way. For better and worse.
So many women bitch and moan about this, but I wonder how many would be willing to even consider marrying a less-successful man and having him stay home as a house-husband.
The reality is, men are driven to achieve in part because it attracts the attention of women. And women seek powerful males for safety and financial resources for themselves and their babies.
50 years of feminist claptrap do not change hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. But try telling that to the dimwits who think the world was created when Betty Freidan wrote "The Feminine Mystique."
It’s funny how the feminists are accusing us of being sexist, yet they’re the ones who are obsessed with counting how many penises and vaginas there are in top creative roles. But I guess that’s what it takes to dehumanize the individual and construct a false “Oppressor” and “Oppressed” mythology about corporate America.
The reason why more men don’t make their opinions known on this issue is because the minute ANY man says ANYTHING public about ANYTHING regarding gender, they get ripped to pieces by the gender grievance industrial complex. But women get to say whatever damn thing they please about men, and everyone just smiles and nods. I guess that must be because we live in a patriarchy, right?
It’s impossible to guess how accurately the anonymous comments reflect the official Mad Men perspective. But it appears the spirit of Neil French is alive and well.
To complete the ambivalence, try locating a female companion for the Madison Avenue Project, BrandLab, MAIP or assorted inner-city youth outreach programs. No agency bigwig has admitted, “We have to do better,” or “We have a long way to go,” when referring to female representation in the corner offices. Don’t expect the New York City Commission on Human Rights or NAACP to step in either. And it would look odd for 4As President-CEO Nancy Hill to make a stand. ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice, on the other hand, might shoot a video that everyone would ignore.
Given the fuzzy-to-lackluster enthusiasm for promoting adwomen, it’s uncertain when and if anything will be done. In the meantime, when faced with another crisis like the ones ignited by the “Got PMS?” and “Hail to the V” campaigns, Goodby and Richards should emulate Rupert Murdoch and call in Edelman.