Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who's cleaning the glass ceiling?

         If women spend most of the money, why are there so many men in prominent roles in marketing and advertising?

         It's a question I've asked myself since I started out in the business. At my first ad agency job in Chicago, we had two female copywriters. Marion worked on Helene Curtis products and Betty worked on Gossard lingerie and Sealy mattresses. Nobody asked why we didn't have any female art directors, any more than they asked why male copywriters worked on Jim Beam and Corina Lark cigars.

        Over the years, I've created advertising for Mr. Clean, Wish-Bone salad dressings, Kraft cake mixes, Nathan's Coney Island hot dogs, S. C. Johnson floor finishes, and many other products purchased mainly by women.

        I've come to the conclusion that the gender of the creative person isn't really a concern. Women aren't born knowing about kitchen floors any more than men are born knowing about cars. Most men don't know much about cars, and I'm sure women could do far better advertising for them.

        True, the learning curve may be different. I remember spending a Saturday morning in the kitchen and laundry room doing the floors and cleaning appliances to get some experience with the products I was working on. It wasn't rocket science, but my mom never taught me these things. It would've been helpful.

         The most important thing, I believe, is understanding the psyche of the buyers and the users of the product. In other words, the basic principle of marketing: knowing the customer.

         Women have done amazing work on Gatorade and yes, on car accounts. On every kind of account. Marketing everything involves a lot of experiencing, thinking, talking, experimenting, studying, and researching --- in addition to talent and business acumen.

          Today, there are probably as many or more women than men in marketing. So ultimately, it's all up to you. If you're willing to do the work, your sex doesn't matter.

         Just be willing to do the work,

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