‘We do not change anything by corporate statements’: Cindy Gallop on the power of creativity in light of #MeToo
Cindy Gallop’s response to Oprah Winfrey’s recent, rousing speech at the Golden Globes is not surprising: “I thought she was fan-bloody-tastic.” Nor is the portability of the message from that night, which translates directly to the advertising and marketing worlds.
Cindy Gallop closing 2017 3% Conference in NYC / Bronac McNeil
“We’ve had enough,” notes Gallop speaking to The Drum. “Anybody who doesn’t realize that it is time to abandon the old world order and be part of the new is going to get run over in the wake.”
Indeed, as the industry’s sexual misconduct continues to be a prime issue, Gallop, three months ago, asked women and men to contact her directly — and to name names.
“I want to see if I can encourage even just a handful of brave women to do what the incredibly brave women who spoke to Jodi Kantor of the New York Times did, which is to come forward, tell stories and name names in a way that would encourage the resultant launch of outpourings [that] has happened in the Harvey Weinstein saga,” she wrote in October. “I just want to see if this is the moment in time when I can encourage just a few women to do that in a way that will then break this wide open in our industry.”
Fast forward to today and Gallop, who just secured $2m for her Make Love Not Porn startup, says that she has received hundreds of emails over the past three months.
“I've been overwhelmed by the response I've received because I've been talking about sexual harassment in our industry, and in business generally, for years,” she says. “I've always known it's bad but I just never knew it was this bad. And, by the way, I'm hearing from men as well as from women. I'm hearing from men who have been sexually harassed by powerful gay men in our industry and I'm hearing from men who watch sexual harassment happened and did nothing about it and now feel guilty and want to put that right.”
According to Gallop, there is a fear, mainly by men, that the “edgy” nature of ad industry will change. Saying this untrue she believes that “when we have gender equality and equality of power, which we do not have currently, then we can absolutely banter and talk and joke and come up with ideas in an entirely welcome and diverse and inclusive environment, and that is not what we have at the moment.”
Gallop believes that sexual harassment “ends very, very easily,” something that she has been talking about for awhile, most recently at the 3% Conference in her closing keynote.
In her mind, there are two ways to tackle the issue: setting out to consciously and deliberately make the industry gender-equal at every level and actually talk about sex.
“When you no longer have a male dominated workplace or work environment, you no longer have the implicit bro endorsement that says it's okay to behave like that,” Gallop says. When you have a gender-equal or, ideally, more female than male ... because it's been the other way around for long enough, it's about time we tipped to balance ... what that means is that when men are surrounded, every minute of every day, by lots of brilliant women with whom they are interacting as professionals on an equal basis, men then cease to see women in one of only two roles; girlfriend or secretary. The thing that started all of this is a male-dominated work environment. The thing that ends it is a gender equal, or more female than male, work environment.”
On the latter issue, actually talking about sex seems counterintuitive in the current climate, but Gallop disagrees.
“We're all utterly messed up, as a society, when it comes to talking about sex,” she says. “What we then do not have is a universally and openly discussed, promoted, understood, operated and, very importantly, aspired to gold standard of good sexual values and good sexual behavior. We have gold standards of good behavior and good values in all other areas of life. We have good manners. We have etiquette. We have decency, we have dignity, we have respect. Not in this area. It's only when we bring sex into the office in the form of openly discussed good sexual values, good sexual behavior, that you then end sexual harassment.”
To that end, Gallop believes that what makes the industry excel could unlock further change.
“The enormous irony about even having to say this about our industry — the way we can do that is by being creative about it,” she says. “We do not change anything by corporate statements. You change this by being creative about how you change it. I don't want to see ads about #MeToo. I don't want to see stunts about it. I don't want to see beautiful pieces of video content about it. I want to see it actually happening and being lived.”
To hear Gallop's full response and insight into the current state of sexual harassment in the industry, listen to the audio at the beginning of this article.