An Attitude Adjustment for Advertising

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An Attitude Adjustment for Advertising
An Attitude Adjustment for Advertising

Mad Menportrayed the male-dominated world of advertising in the 1960s.  Although we’re nearly twenty years into the next century now, some of the industry’s sexist norms persist. It’s time to do something about it.  

In the wake of the #MeToo Movement’s call to give voice to the victims of sexual harassment, industries have been forced to face up the problem and work on solutions. Among the organizations devoted to progress in this area is TIME’S UP,™ which was formed by women in the entertainment industry this past January. In March, the organization partnered with women in the advertising industry to launch the industry-specific TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING.

In the letter posted on the website, it pointed how in just a couple of months, the group had “grown from 14 women to 200.”  The members are comprised of “women in senior leadership positions in advertising” who believe “that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead.”

The letter continues by clarifying the organization’s take on its name:

  • Time’s up, Advertising
  • Time’s up on sexual harassment
  • Time’s up on lack of representation
  • Time’s up on inequity
  • Time’s up on silence.

Aiming “to drive new policies, practices, decisions, and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse, and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse; and create equitable cultures within our agencies,” it calls for people to come together to effect “ real change.”

The call for leaders to effect this kind of change fits with what Elza Ibroscheva, associate dean of communications at Webster University and author of Advertising, Sex & Post Socialism: Women, Media & Femininity in the Balkans. argues in a Footwear News article: “We need more female voices in the creative process, not because they’re the token diversity hire but because their opinions really matter.” She believes the same applies to diverse viewpoints from other groups outside the straight white male standard.

TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING plans a number of in-person events, beginning with gatherings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto on May 14. Additional events and note on “goals and progress” are to be posted on the site.

Currently, it identifies general steps like identifying what aspects of the industry setup “have failed” women, establishing mentorships for encouraging diversity and establishing “progressive agency training and education that brings this discussion and its solutions out into the open in our agencies.”

Perhaps the new organization should consider a partnership with one that has been working on diverse representation in the industry for the past six year. The 3% Movement took its name from the fact that in 2012 “only 3% of creative directors are women,” and an even lower percentage were not white.  Its goal was to achieve parity of representation, and it boasts that it is gaining ground with the numbers up to 11 percent at present.

While the 3% Movement doesn’t focus on sexual harassment, its goals of extending representation to be more diverse and inclusive fit perfectly with the call for action that TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING maps up. Together, the organizations can build on the #MeToo momentum to finally change the “Mad Men” mentality.

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