It’s that ongoing debate that again reared its ugly head last week and, yep, it’s the dearth of female creatives among Aussie agencies. But for one of Australia’s most lauded female ECDs – Justine Armour (pictured above) – the problem’s arguably the ads themselves which for too long have been a turn-off and can often appear “hostile” to women; meaning it’s simply an industry many baulk at working in.
Armour worked as a creative for some of Australia’s top agencies in the early 2000s, including stints at McCann, Clemms, Saatchi & Saatchi and Mojo. In 2011 she shifted to the States and landed a gig at Weiden + Kennedy (widely regarded as the best agency on the planet) before moving to her current role – group creative director at New York’s 72 And Sunny.
Armour admitted she was one of the few female creatives during her decade-plus stint at the Aussie agencies but revealed to B&T her experience was primarily positive.
“I never really got asked about this until a couple of years ago, so I’ve only recently started to analyse what those years were like,” Armour revealed when questioned about being a female among the bucks.
“There were some creepy things that happened, sure, but nothing that defined my experience. If I was to make one sweeping generalisation I’d say it was a ‘boys’ club’; it was very social, and there was a lot of drinking. The pub was where the relationships that got you onto good briefs were formed, and getting good briefs meant doing good work which meant having a better time overall. So I was at the pub a lot!”
Armour, too, is quick to add that she doesn’t want to appear some sort of flag-bearer for female creatives. “I’m only talking about this because you asked me,” she’s quick to reiterate to B&T. “Most of the women I know (in the industry) are ‘cool girls’ (you can read about ‘cool girls’ here). They pride themselves on being able to hang with whoever, which can be a double-edged sword, but that’s how it works. The girls (female creatives) I know would rather talk about ideas and cool shit than focus on this.”
One of Australia’s top ECDs recently told B&T (anonymously, of course) that he reckoned adland took the hit for the gender debate when a host of other creative industries – architecture, music and scriptwriting, as examples – were equally male dominated but sans the blowtorch given to agency land. Interestingly, he added: “When the redundancies came it was always the blokes that got sacked because the agency was desperate to hang on to any female talent it had.”
But for Armour, having women creatives isn’t “an obligation, it’s a massive opportunity”.
She added: “Women are more nuanced communicators, their brains are wired and work differently, and they have a different, often hostile relationship with advertising because of the way it has treated them in the past.
“Women make 85 per cent of purchase decisions, so your clients’ consumers are women. So if you want to be really insightful and truly effective, women should be involved in creating the work that encourages women to consider your product.”
So what are the solutions to a problem, it must be said, has been ongoing for years and doesn’t appear to being showing any signs of marked improvement? For starters, Armour would like to see less talk and more female-positive policies by agencies.
There needs to be more women in senior roles so the new recruits feel they have a future in the industry, Armour said. The industry, she added, had no problems attracting females out of the universities and colleges but had enormous issues retaining them once kids arrived and other, more family-friendly careers, start to look more appealing.
Agency land’s 24/7, “always on” culture is also a massive dissuader to women, particularly those with young kids at home. “We have to create conditions where mums can compete,” Armour said. “If your clients have women’s brands and want women’s thinking, enlist their support in getting women on their business.
“Build air into your deadlines, make the process work around these women. My agency offers six months’ paid maternity leave. My previous agency offered four months’ paid leave and covered travel for carers when breastfeeding mothers needed to travel for work.
“Many agencies (in the US) also have dedicated breastfeeding/pumping rooms in the office. France has a ban on work email on weekends, after 6pm and before 9am. Those are conditions where mums can make it work. I would put policies like those in place, and let women know they can negotiate with you case-by-case so that you can find a way that works for everyone.”
Finally, should it be the clients that enact the change? Should they simply demand to see more work by more female creatives? “Sure. If they’re not asking for it, it won’t be a priority. Any client creating products for women is missing out if they don’t have insightful creative women on their business,” Armour concluded.
Amazon is reportedly in discussions to buy the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio, a move that would cost them US$9 billion, or AU$11.5 billion. Originally reported by Variety, according to industry sources, the tech giant is currently in negotiations over a deal. MGM is responsible for a number of significant Hollywood franchises, including James Bond, as well as […]
New research by Roy Morgan shows Australians are less likely than a year ago to buy products across a wide range of industries if they know the product is ‘Made in China’. The largest declines were for clothes, electrical goods, mobile phones, footwear and sporting goods. In 2020 only 24 per cent of Australians said […]
Global beauty brand and certified B Corp The Body Shop has added SEO to the scope of services provided by Havas Media Melbourne off the back of exceptional results from the agency. Havas Media was appointed to handle media strategy, planning and implementation for The Body Shop last year. Its first campaign, delivered for the […]
Queerstories, the award-winning podcast celebrating the culture and creativity of the LGBTQI+ community, has joined the Acast Creator network. The podcast is part of a national storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden, which also features a book and event series, and has become wildly popular over the past four years. It will now be hosted […]
After season one of ABC’s Love On The Spectrum (pictured above) was picked up for international release by Netflix, season two premiered last night on Aussie telly to 402,000 viewers. The show follows the romantic lives of Australian young people on the autism spectrum. Coming out on top overall was Seven News with 983,000 viewers, followed by Nine […]
In its first major brand campaign since Defence Force Recruiting returned to the agency, VMLY&R has created ‘Your life, plus Army Reserve’. The energetic campaign demonstrates that you don’t need to give up your lifestyle, your career, your day job or your studies to join the Army Reserve. Sweetshop director Joel Harmsworth was enlisted to […]
New research conducted by Nine’s marketing solutions division, Powered and Fiftyfive5, reveals local identity is becoming increasingly more important for Australians, and is having a significant impact on our culture. Now more than ever we have adapted to “living local”, from travelling closer to home, to increasingly supporting brands and businesses that align to hyper-local […]
Last month, triple j Unearthed dropped an incredibly hot sample pack, featuring musical parts generously donated by Gang of Youths, Lime Cordiale, Alison Wonderland, Genesis Owusu, San Cisco, Vallis Alps and Touch Sensitive. Then it was over to the triple j Unearthed music community, who took those musical parts and morphed them into their own […]
Treasury Wine Estates has taken the launch of its latest varietal, 19 Crimes Snoop Cali Red, to the streets with an interactive campaign in collaboration with renowned Californian icon, Snoop Dogg. The campaign was created by Cashmere Agency in the US with regional roll out of the campaign led by Mindshare and Wunderman Thompson. Revolution360 […]