Is Creativity a “Testro-fest”?

CreativityKat Gordon was an advertising creative director who decided that the dominance of male creative directors was bad for business. She had a eureka moment when she realized that most purchases are made by women, yet women don’t like how they’re marketed to, and sure enough, very few female voices control the advertising we see. Specifically, 97% of advertising creative directors are guys (click-to-tweet).

So like a woman, she decided to do something about it and started the 3% Conference, a crusade to support female creative leadership – initially in advertising – but increasingly across the creative communications spectrum.

We’re lucky at Ketchum, and frankly the public relations discipline, to have excellent female representation and leadership in our creative ranks, and thus, a strong feminine voice in our creative work.  And yet, Kat’s speech at NYC’s Creative Week provided important reminders to my colleagues and me. Here they are:


1. End homogeneity if your goal is Creativity

Mix up brainstorms.  A room full of silver-haired men ideating for a financial institution is just as limiting as a brainstorm brimming with lipstick and skinny jeans for a spirits brand. Great ideas benefit from both the female and male perspectives.

2. Gel and Sell Your Ideas

Practice selling ideas. Ladies in particular need to work on convincing audiences that their ideas rock.  Strong idea salesmanship is as important as idea creation. Your creative reputation depends on your creative conviction, so focus on making audiences fall in love with your ideas.

3. Strut your Creative Stuff

Step up and own creativity. If you’re a creative person in public relations, and especially if you are a woman, own it.  With greater gender diversity in our creative ranks, our ideas come from a place of understanding and insight.  In the creative sandbox, we build castles.  Let’s make sure our castles sparkle and get seen.

4. Find an Opposite Gender Mentor

Stop picking mentors just like you. There is a positive correlation between mentorship and success, and men have a lot to teach women, just as women have a lot to teach men.   Kat assures us that there is nothing unsavory about an older man mentoring a younger woman, and vice-versa.  Above all, find a mentor, and be one.

And consider this.  Women drive social media usage except for on LinkedIn, the very platform that’s dedicated to getting ahead professionally.  Men and women alike – we need to work together to ensure that creative thinking is not a “testro-fest.”  Brands deserve that.

About the 3% Conference:
Launched on September 27, 2012, the 3% Conference has exploded into a 2-day, 400-person event in San Francisco, multi-city road shows throughout the year, a vibrant online community on multiple social platforms, a student scholarship fund, a creative award, and a business blog to support the crusade.