Cannes Lions Takes Notice Of Women In The Industry

Cannes Lions Takes Notice Of Women In The Industry

The world’s fastest growing economy is women and it appears the organisers of the Cannes Lions Awards are finally sitting up and taking notice.

Niki Waldegrave
Posted by Niki Waldegrave

They’ve asked Australia’s chief marketer to women, Bec Brideson from Venus Comms, to do a presentation at next month’s international festival of creativity.

She’s doing her talk on June 23, day two – which is the Independent Agency Day – and her time slot sees her go head-to-head with the Patron Saint of School Dinners, British chef Jamie Oliver.

Not that it bothers Melbourne-based Brideson, who has got marketing to the ladies sewn up – more than 80 per cent of purchasing decisions worldwide are made by women and the former creative director of Cummins & Partners set up Venus Comms in 2004 with the sole aim of tapping into that market.

“My agency model of marketing-to-women is quite different to the generalists you would usually be dealing with,” she told B&T.

“It’s a massive area of growth and innovation – and the tipping point is getting closer. It’s probably the first time Cannes has taken the subject more seriously. I went with Tara Lordsmith two years ago and was so disappointed because there was just nothing about females on the agenda apart from Arianna Huffington talking about the stuff that’s in ‘Thrive’, which was fantastic, but that was aimed at the young, creative group. It certainly wasn’t on the topic of the female consumer.

“I was really disappointed and went, ‘this is one great, big, boys club, and we need more females here talking about stuff that’s really affecting the economy and the way we connect to the female consumer’. And that’s why they asked me to speak.”

According to the Communications Council’s 2013 Salary Survey, women account for only 13.5 per cent of people at creative director level or higher in creative departments in Australia. And worldwide, just three per cent of creative directors are women.

Two years ago a survey by the Cannes Lions found that 15 per cent of delegates under the age of 28 are female and in creative jobs, compared to just four per cent of delegates over the age of 28.

Brideson insists she’s not about the discussions around the feminist debate or quotas and gender issues though, admitting, “I’ll always consider the gender issue as a serious but separate issue to advertising because what I’m looking at is a business opportunity with a massive financial upside. I’m about the business of women, the sheer economics and the irrefutable facts around females being the most influential consumer on the planet.

“I did a global research on other marketing to women agencies and have found 60 exist. 1100 per cent growth since I started my agency. One of the insights from my research paper was around the industry media not taking the subject seriously, nor us women who run agencies!

“And this is a massive part of the problem – the industry doesn’t support our specialisation… why? Because it highlights a broken industry model with outdated thinking. And that is why is I’m bringing a global group of us M2W agencies together.”

Read more about Bec Brideson in the next issue of B&T, out June 16, where we unveil some of Australia’s female powerhouses ahead of our Women in Media Awards on August 13.