I had an ice cream workshop last week where we were coming up with “on brand ice cream flavors.” As a part of the day, we brought in a creative who hasn’t worked on the account before to be a fresh pair of eyes. Luck of the draw landed us with Rob Messeter from our London office who has done some great work for Marmite and Harvey Nichols. It really was a fortunate addition and when he finally landed we went to Dar Poeta for pizza in Rome. It was delicious – finally I’ve had a meal in Rome worth remembering.
Not only is Rob handsome (check out those curls and blue eyes, single ladies!) he’s also smart and we had a great discussion about creatives and a little about planning. I’ve been interested for a while in the topic of women and planning, which ones make it to the top, will I have to go freelance or have a home hubby if I want to have kids, all that. And the survey can only tell you so much. But you see even fewer women in the creative department and on an account targeting women we’ve struggled to get a few gals to concept on various projects. So I asked Rob his take.
More than the endless hours and crap pay, he thinks it’s the unrelenting years of being told your ideas aren’t good enough that keep the ladies out of the business. He described a CD he knew who did a workshop for clients. Over the weekend before the workshop, the participants were asked to create models of their homes out of matchsticks. Each person put a great deal of effort in and on Monday morning, they presented their intricate creations. He complimented the effort then took a closer look at one and said this house is like the work creatives present. Then he smashed it with his foot and said that’s how creatives feel when you criticize their work.
Now, I know I don’t have the kind of skin thickness it takes to suffer through that feeling day after day. And Rob said that’s really what it feels like and then you toughen up. He and his partner presented 50 print ad ideas for VW recently to their CD, and so did several other teams. One is being produced – theirs – but still there are 49 ideas of theirs that aren’t. And days that the other guys will never get back with nothing to show for it this time. Then there’s the pressure to keep getting awards just to keep your job.
Back to the girls, there has to be some reason there aren’t more of them in the creative department. Mother even actively recruits female creatives aiming for 50/50. I can’t imagine what that’s like because most places I’ve been have had, I believe, a max of 3 women in the creative department – that was Martin. Mullen had two when I was there, DDB Amsterdam has zero right now, Tribal Amsterdam has one (who just won the Grand Prix at Cannes – congrats Mariota Essery!) I’ve always thought it was the long trips for production – you can’t go AWOL for two weeks or a month and raise a kid – which is even harder than the travel planners endure as we’re rarely (ever?) on that long of a trip. Rob says it’s about being smart enough to want more in life than criticism. He’s honestly not sexist so no attacking him. What do you think?