Cindy Gallop: It’s time for men to see how much happier they would be with all female or majority female leadership
Within the closed league of white guys, those white guys at the top are sitting very pretty. They have their enormous salaries, their gigantic bonuses, their massive pools of stock options, their lavish expense accounts …
Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Adnan Arnautlija
Only days separate us from the 23rd Golden Drum that will take place from 18 to 21 October in Ljubljana, Slovenia. More than 40 world class speakers will take the stage during the four days of the festival, including the star of the show, Cindy Gallop.
Cindy is considered one of the 30 most extraordinary and influential people in advertising, whose excellent speeches on the future of advertising and marketing echo all over the world. She started her career in theater but in the late 80’s switched to advertising. Over the years, Cindy, founder and director of platform www.IfWeRanTheWorld.com and the www.makelovenotporn.com project, proved to be an avid advocate on many issues in the industry, most notably diversity and the representation of women in top tiers of companies. There is no way to stay indifferent to what Cindy has to say – after all, she describes her own unique approach to counseling as: “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.”
Looking forward to the Golden Drum, we talked with Cindy just to give you a little taste of what you can expect in Ljubljana.
Media Marketing: You’ve been with the advertising industry since the late 80’s. How much has the industry changed regarding the representation of women in it?
Cindy Gallop: Depressingly enough, not a lot has changed. In fact, when you watch the TV series Mad Men, it’s interesting to see how much about the industry has changed and how much hasn’t changed. When it comes to gender equality and diversity in the industry, very, very little has changed.
Media Marketing: On the other hand, women are decision makers when it comes to purchasing, and yet they are underrepresented in the leadership positions. Some studies show that 91% of them feel that they are misunderstood by advertisers. Has the “best before date” of male dominance expired?
Cindy Gallop: Yes. Of course! Any industry where the primary target is female should absolutely reflect that within the industry’s staffing ranks. In an industry where women are the majority of purchasers, and the majority of influencers of purchasing, in every single product sector women should be the majority of leaders, and particularly the majority of creative leaders and creatives in our industry. The fact that they’re not is utterly outrageous, ridiculous and very, very bad business.
Media Marketing: We in the Adriatic region like to think that we have a somewhat better representation of women in leading positions in our industry compared to the world average, but still it’s not enough.
Cindy Gallop: First of all, a somewhat better gender ratio isn’t good enough. Because, when you still have a male dominated industry, and a male dominated culture, having a few more women isn’t enough, because, as I’ve always put it, the alien organism has to adapt to the culture around it. They have to become like the men, so a few women in leadership makes no difference whatsoever. Every agency, and every brand marketer should be actively looking to put more women into leadership than men, because when male leaders do that, they will be astonished at how much better their business will do, and what better working lives they will have. This is a very ironic thing. We live in a world where the default setting is always male. Men, you have no idea how much happier you would be living and working in a world that is at least 50-50, designed, managed and led by women as much as men – if not designed, managed and led by more women than men.
It’s been the other way around for too long. Men have demanded that we women report in to them, and accept virtually all male leadership. It’s time for men to see how much happier they would be with all female or majority female leadership.
Media Marketing: But this is something that has to come from the agencies and advertisers themselves. Shouldn’t they listen to the studies indicating that more diversity equals better business, and push for the change themselves?
Cindy Gallop: Of course I think that agencies and brand marketers alike should be pushing for that. Here’s why they don’t: at the top of our industry, and at the top of every client industry, there’s a closed loop of white guys talking to white guys about other white guys. I make the “white” point because everything I say about gender diversity applies equally to diversity of race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, disability. Diversity drives innovation. True innovation, disruption and creativity is the result of many different mindsets, perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, world views, angles… all coming together in constructive creative conflict, to get to a very different and far better place than that none of us could have gotten to on our own. Here’s why that’s not happening, because within that closed league of white guys, those white guys at the top are sitting very pretty. They have their enormous salaries, their gigantic bonuses, their massive pools of stock options, their lavish expense accounts… Why would they ever want to rock the boat? They may talk diversity – because they have to, it’s the buzzword of the moment – they may appoint a head of diversity, they may put a diversity initiative in place, they may say we have this diversity program, but deep down, fundamentally, they have absolutely no desire to change anything, because the system is working for them just fine as it currently is. That’s the problem. It’s like the old joke about how many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change. And the white men really don’t want to change.
I don’t do what everybody else does in this situation. Everybody else is talking rational facts and figures. Everybody cites studies that demonstrate that gender equality is so much better for business. There are facts and figures and studies and surveys and research and data, demonstrating this all over the place. If rational facts and figures worked, we would look very different as an industry right now. They don’t. You have to get this message across emotionally. Our creative strategy at BBH, when I worked there was: We don’t sell; we make people want to buy. I’m not selling diversity. I make people want to buy it! Because it’s only messages that go in through the heart, not the head, that really have impact and are really effective. That’s what I’m trying to do with all of this.
Media Marketing: One of the things that are suffocating creativity is fear. Both agencies and clients are playing it safe when it comes to creativity. You are someone who advocates brave, groundbreaking moves. Would bravery be a smarter choice for our industry?
Cindy Gallop: Here’s the enormously ironic thing, the safest thing that any agency could possibly do would be to hire women into executive creative leadership positions, hire women to be their CEO, their managing director, and make their creative departments more female than male. That is the safest thing you could possibly do in an industry whose primary target is women. Equally, on the client side, the safest thing any brand could possibly do is make its CMO female, make its CEO female, and make its entire marketing department more female than male. Those are the safest moves you could possibly make, that will then generate extraordinarily disruptive, innovative creativity that at the same time would be both groundbreaking and the safest creativity you could possibly engage in, because it would be creativity that is utterly empathetic and emotionally connected to your target market.
Media Marketing: Some argue that some of the works that are boldly creative are such because they are created solely for the purpose of festivals and awards. Is this problem really present?
Cindy Gallop: It’s absolutely a problem because award juries are all-male or are male dominated. I’ve been campaigning about this for years with some effect in areas of the western world, but if you go to Latin America, you will still find juries that are all male. If you go to Asia you will find awards juries that are all-male. When I talk about the closed league of white guys talking to white guys about other white guys, that also applies to advertising awards. It’s a closed league of white guys, doing work for white guys, who celebrate the work done by white guys and award the work done by white guys. You have the self-perpetuating downward spiral because what passes for creativity in our industry now is “white guy creativity”. And again, I use the word “white” advisedly, because this is also why Asian work, African work, Indian work, whatever work, gets awarded less somewhere like Cannes than European and American work – work that is more easily related to by the large sway of the western world that is also judging it.
This is why I talk about what I call the new creativity. The new creativity is female informed, and does not operate within the boundaries of the old creativity which says that a certain type of ad – deliberately outrageous, deliberately provocative, deliberately pushing the boundaries in a very superficial way – is what wins awards. When we have as many women as men (if not more women than men) on awards juries, and when we have as many women as men who are ECDs (if not more women than men) and when we have as many women as men in creative departments (if not more women than men), you will see a completely new form of creativity. You will see completely new judging criteria, and you will be blown away by: a) how extraordinarily creative that work is and b) how much scam ads no longer have to exist, because that creativity is natural, organic, groundbreaking, trailblazing… And there will be enough of it to deliver awards for clients, so you won’t need scam ads.
Media Marketing: You are coming to the Golden Drum, and organizers say they gave you a carte blanche for your presentation. You commented on Twitter that we can expect the unexpected. Does this mean that we should expect a mild and conservative Cindy Gallop?
Cindy Gallop: I’m assuming there will be people in the audience who don’t know anything about me, but if anyone knows anything about me they will not find what I’m talking about unexpected. I’m just going to do what I always do: Say what I think!