The World's Most Creative Women: Charlotte Adorjan, creative director, AMV BBDO

Charlotte Adorjan, Creative Director at AMV BBDO

In a continuing drive for greater diversity and inclusion in marketing and advertising, a new feature by The Drum highlights conversations with top creative women in the industry.

All were nominated for The Drum’s global Woman of the Year award at The Drum Creative Awards, sponsored by Facebook, One Minute Briefs and in partnership with Creative Equals. The award is designed to push equality boundaries within the creative industry to spark discussion and action.

From icons and pioneers to prominent creative directors and designers, we asked each of them how diversity creates better work, the positive changes the industry can make, what keeps these creatives going in an ever-changing world and how greater diversity can grow the business.

Today, we speak to Charlotte Adorjan, creative director at AMV BBDO. This series will reveal more of The Drum's Creative Women over the left fortnight.

From your experience and point of view, how does a more diverse creative team create better work? What have been some examples of that in action?

The best work usually has the best insights. So, if a team has diverse life experiences then chances are you’ll have access to a lot more of those juicy insights — the ones that really resonate with people. And I’m not just talking male/female teams, either. The same applies to teams with diverse nationalities or backgrounds. It’s a good thing if you haven’t seen the same films, read the same books or both had a period/know the offside rule.

We’ve recently been working on a knife crime brief aimed at grime-loving inner city kids. Neither my partner nor I felt our knowledge of the mean streets of West London would really cut it with the target, but [by] teaming up with some great young creatives the gap was plugged. The combination of each of our experiences; theirs in playlists, insight and ‘jargon’, ours in ad-years, worked really well. It was a pretty diverse team – made of young, old (-ish, ahem), black, white, male, female. The work is a thousand times better for it.

How are the conversations around creativity, and specific work/projects, different with a more gender balanced team?

Sometimes, especially in advertising, it’s easy to fall back on stereotypes. But if you’re working on a brief and you know nothing about the product, you really have to interrogate it. You’re more likely to come up with something fresh because you’re seeing it through new eyes. It’s why I actually think guys can be great at writing sanitary towel ads and gals can be good at doing the more 'typically male’ car ads.

I wrote a Volvo campaign many moons ago that was aimed at dads. It did well in awards (and I’m sure, sold lots of Volvo estates) despite me knowing nothing about cars, or being a dad.

But, perhaps, real magic can happen when you have a bit of insight from one person who knows the product well or who is the target market, mixed with some wrestling and interrogating from the other person who isn’t/doesn’t. That pushes ideas in far more exciting directions. That’s the beauty of not only working in a team, but working in a diverse one.

What changes around inclusion should the entire industry embrace today?

I believe in meritocracy. The best people should get the best jobs. But what if those best people don’t see anyone like them doing that job so don’t apply? Or get lost because they’ve had to take time out to have children?

We need to make sure that we support the creatives who are ‘different’ from the norm. Be they female, a mum, too skint to do placement, or who don’t have connected parents getting them foots in doors. That way, we’ll help keep them doing what they’re doing to show others it’s possible.

We should also be sniffing out talent in unlikely places. I’ve met mums on the school run who have better comedic timing and storytelling than any comedy writer, a dad from my NCT and a music professor whose Facebook statuses rival Pencil-winning headlines. My son also once gave us a pretty decent idea for a Great Ormond Street campaign. And he was two.

With all of the issues women face in the creative sector, what keeps you in the industry?

For me it all hinges on the support and championing I get from my agency. I need to work flexibly. The old advertising life of staying in the office until the wee hours often with a beer in hand doesn’t work for me anymore. They see it’s possible to get more done in less office hours — that a four day week is good for everyone, the work included. And I know they would apply the same principles to a male creative should he want that flexibility too.

When things are tough I have fantasised about quitting, and I’ve been talked down from the brink by very supportive ECDs on occasion. But then I struggle to think of another job that would pay me to be this creative every single day — that would let me dream up mad, hare-brained ideas and then pay me to actually make them. Or would allow me to hang out with such interesting people.

Will greater diversity in the industry ultimately save/grow it?

The industry lives and dies on great ideas. Greater diversity increases the chance of different, interesting ideas bubbling to the surface.

It’s our job to persuade people to do something we want them to do. I find it wrong and a little creepy that it’s the ‘pale, male and stale’ of the industry (to quote Vicky Maguire) that would be the ones controlling people's thoughts. The world is diverse so we should be too. And if we don’t nab all the talented people out there that don’t fit the pale/male/stale stereotype then someone else will.

The Drum Creative Awards puts creativity back in the spotlight and flies the flag for creativity during the digital revolution. These global awards are open to advertising agencies, design consultancies, digital agencies, production companies, marketing agencies, PR and more.

To register your interest for 2018, go to the event website.

This years awards were sponsored by: Facebook Creative Shop and One Minute Brief and partnered with: Creative Equals.

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