Advertising gets on my tits

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Cubo encourages industry leaders to invest in more female creative talent this International Women's Day.

Let me clarify: some advertising gets on my tits. I’m referring to the adverts that use my gender’s tits to sell burgers. The ones using our waif-like passivity, effortless domesticity, erratic emotions, cut-throat-bossy tendencies, or inner femme fatale to sell stuff to the same people they’ve just insulted.

But if you only have 30 seconds to sell something, a stereotype can do a lot of the heavy lifting. I’m an advertising creative. I’m also a woman. So I know how deliciously tempting but lazy and dangerous it is to use stereotypes.

I don’t believe it’s enough to avoid just using gender stereotypes. I think we should be using advertising as a medium to lead positive shifts in gender perception.

Why should brands and advertisers care?

Depicting realistic genders is not just an altruistic choice for brands or a way for creatives to make a name for themselves, it's a savvy business move for all involved.

Ad campaigns like Is It Ok For Guys by AXE and This Girl Can for Sport England are helping to redefine and expand what masculinity and femininity mean today. And unsurprisingly, real gender representations resonate with audiences. This Girl Can got over 1.6 million women exercising and Is It Ok For Guys generated a tonne of free media, eventually snowballing into a worldwide conversation.

To create a fairer depiction of gender in ads, we need a better balance of gender in ad agencies.

The first woman to have an opinion on an advert aimed at women shouldn’t be the consumer.

For female audiences to connect with the women they see in ads, there needs to be more women coming up with the ideas, more women present in pivotal meetings and more women working in high-level roles making final creative decisions.

Luckily, there are fantastic new initiatives to attract, encourage and keep women in the industry.

Senior creative team Charlotte Hugh and Danny Pallett noticed this while doing talks in universities for The Young Creative Council that although 60% of creative students were female, their creative academic efforts weren't translating into industry. Women now only make up 29% of roles in creative departments.

Last year for International Women’s Day, the duo launched badass.gal to promote talented female creatives. Industry leaders and uni lecturers can nominate any gals they know that are creating bad ass work via the site. The goal of the platform is to celebrate and boost the work of exceptional individuals and promote female talent industry-wide.

Hugh said: "Danny and I set up badass.gal with an ambition to shine a light on the young creative women who were already going above and beyond despite their lack of ‘years’ experience’. Since launching, the site has become a place to source daily inspiration, seek and find collaboration opportunities and it has even become a platform to discover talent, with a number of agencies having used the platform to hire."

You can check out Badass Gal to see the talented women nominated in the last year and if you happen to know a bad ass that’s killing it creatively then get nominating!

It’s time to woman up.

If you’re in a position to hire, specifically reach out to females for the next opening in your creative department. If your agency offers internships, graduate schemes or work experience, suggest recruiting from an all female pool of talent. If you have female creatives in your agency recognise their perspectives as naturally more in tune with female consumers than even the most empathetic male creative. Develop and encourage their talents and in the process you’ll better equip your creative department to tackle any brief for any audience.

And if you’re a woman aspiring to be a creative or you’re already in a creative role: keep going. It’s easier to change something from the inside. Speak up and be the voice of empathy for female audiences. Use your talents to craft adverts that portray women as the multi-faceted complex beings that we are.

Alana O'Sullivan is a copywriter at Cubo

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