Wednesday, November 20, 2019

14829: Digiday Takes A Pregnant Pause For White Women With Children.

The latest installment of the Digiday confessions series spotlighted an anonymous female creative director who declared, “I haven’t seen anyone be pregnant and a creative before.” Gee, did the digital publication interview Neil French in drag? The secret squealer whined about the alleged offenses pregnant women face in the advertising industry, especially at agencies within White holding companies; however, she did admit things like maternity leave suck in any industry. But hey, she’ll qualify for the White privilege of a returnship—which is significantly more than the average minority will ever receive from adland.

‘I haven’t seen anyone be pregnant and a creative before’: Confessions of an agency creative director

By Kristina Monllos

A lot’s changing inside agencies. On the business side, they’re grappling with managing a shift to an era with more project-based work, which comes with its business model changes and has also changed the culture within the companies. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, we speak to a creative director at a holding company agency about what has her worried about how things will change — and what it’s like to be pregnant in an industry that has its share of issues when it comes to handling maternity leave and other policies.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You’re currently pregnant. What’s it like to be pregnant and a creative director at a large holding company agency?

I haven’t seen anybody be pregnant and be a creative before, let alone a creative director. It sucks not to know what that’s like because I haven’t seen anyone do it before. There hasn’t been much in the way of female leadership at our agency.

Are you preparing for parental leave? How’s the policy?

It used to be that you would qualify to go on disability, but that’s the same thing as if you break your arm. I found that to be kind of insulting. It’s not like I’m disabled. I’m having a child. They recently changed the policy after some employees made the case for it to be changed, and it’s much better now. But I hear from friends of mine about how bad the policies are at their agencies, like one of my friends just has the PTO she has saved up to use and that’s it. It’s not just advertising, though. Parental leave is bad in any industry.

It’s getting close to the holidays and crunch time for Super Bowl ads. That can be a busy time. Do you feel overworked?

Everyone has been very cognizant that I’m pregnant, but we have been super, super busy. There was one instance where I was asked to work the weekend on a Friday afternoon for a pitch. It doesn’t normally bother me to be asked to work a lot, but I was clearly very pregnant and I feel like it’s weird to ask someone who’s very pregnant to work on a pitch over the weekend.

Has there been any change post-Me Too in the culture of the agency?

A lot of women are trying to rally together to be supportive of each other. We’ve tried to initiate some mentorship programs. But there’s still a lot of bro culture around. It’s surprising that it still exists.

How so?

There are still some ECDs who have their bros. It’s very present sometimes in the assignments that are given and a bit of the culture. I’ve had younger creatives come up and say that they feel it. Others have asked for advice on how to handle it. They say they aren’t really connecting with their co-workers because they’re not bro-y. There isn’t much you can do to fix it other than to learn to not get emotionally affected by it.

What about on the business side? Is your agency feeling the shift to project-based work? If so, has it changed the culture?

It’s definitely an interesting time. It’s scary yet exciting and totally different. Our company has clients who have been there for 40 years, but we’re also now seeing that a lot of the clients are going project-based across the industry, which is totally new. So how do we change our entire business model to go with that flow? We are pivoting.

How do you pivot? Are you staffing up and down as needed?

I think so. Personally, it’s like how do you become more nimble in your work, how do you do things faster and leaner and more efficiently?

Is it nerve-wracking to see all of that change?

For me, not really. If it doesn’t work out with this large agency I know I can go somewhere else. Maybe advertising in this sense won’t be a thing anymore in the next couple of years, and you’ll have to evolve and make something completely new, but that doesn’t scare me.

But do people in the office talk about the shift to project work a lot?

All the time. Other people are freaking out. It’s very apparent that you need to evolve. It might be OK, or it might totally crumble. In general, people are worried that clients want more project-based work rather than long-term. That’s the immediate change we’re seeing, the money that’s coming in. Instead of us pitching multimillion-dollar accounts over a few years, now it’s less than a million for one project. There’s just less stability.

If more clients want to go project-based, does that mean your pitching more often?

We’re pitching kind of the same amount, but it’s smaller pitches — that’s all. We’ve been putting smaller teams on them because it is smaller business, but we’re still going at them the same way. It’s just fewer people. If anything, I think it’s better because I get more responsibility. When there are fewer people, you’re more involved. When there was a giant client, they would put like 20 [creative] teams on it, but now they put just one or two. It’s a lot more fun now because you’re more involved.

With fewer people on staff, does that change the mood?

It does make you nervous. You wonder how it’s affecting the place that you work. Will it make the agency smaller and better, or is it getting smaller and not going to be open for much longer? That’s what runs through people’s minds. But then again, on the creative side, you get more opportunities because there are fewer people so you get more access to more briefs. I’m still there, so I look at it as a positive opportunity rather than being scared of what’s going to happen. There’s nothing you can do anyway, so you might as well make the most of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

14828: Slow Play Cautionary Commentary From Fast-Talking Hucksters.

This National Lottery advertisement from Ireland cautions the public to play responsibly and slow down when gaming gets compulsive and out of control. Hey, why not slow down the advertising and promotion too?

Monday, November 18, 2019

14827: Sir Martin Sorrell Reportedly Stages Bitch-Slapping Slapstick Skit.

Campaign reported on an alleged comical confrontation between Sir Martin Sorrell and ex-colleague Jim Prior after Sorrell took offense to comments Prior made about S4 Capital in an interview. The Financial Times claimed Sorrell slapped Prior’s face during a heated exchange, but Sorrell denies the faceoff turned physical. Hey, Sorrell is not prone to violence, opting to terminate chauffeurs and yell at administrative assistants—although he’s probably slapped the ass of a prostitute or party hostess on occasion.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

14826: U.S. Army Campaign Goes For War Games.

After all the childish gamesmanship over the U.S. Army account, the campaign from DDB ironically takes a gamification approach to recruitment. Sorry, but it feels like something concocted by White advertising agency veterans trying to be cool and culturally relevant to youth.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

14825: One Goal Is One Bad Idea For A Losing Hockey Team.

Gotta believe the Chicago Blackhawks are regretting continuing this advertising campaign theme, as the team is barely averaging one goal per game.

Friday, November 15, 2019

14824: Thank God It’s Fitness Friday With Jordan Zimmerman. Not.

The ever-narcissistic Jordan Zimmerman inflates his over-pumped ego with Fitness Friday—coming off like a bizarro cross between Richard Simmons and Hans & Franz. Clearly, Zimmerman hasn’t found a camera angle he doesn’t love. Gotta wonder what the staff at his White advertising agency looks like. There must be a ton of body shaming directed at anyone not meeting Zimmerman’s standard of flexcellence.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

14823: Polluting Adland And The Media Environment With Hefty Bags Of Bad Ideas.

Having sucked dry the plastic-straws-kill-wildlife angle, hackneyed creative teams are filling up on the plastic-bags-kill-wildlife notion—with advertisements that should have been stuffed into plastic garbage sacks at the concept stage.