Views from Ad Week: Diversity Builds creativity- What I Learnt Last Week at Ad Week

Harriet is Marketing Content Manager at Posterscope, psi and psLIVE.
Frenzied and energised. This was the mood at AdWeek, during the first morning of the four day event.
As advertisers, marketers, ‘media people’ and brands paced the corridors whilst security guards tried to retain order, one thing was clear: this engaged group of people were ready for the eventful week to come.
As my first Advertising Week Europe, my expectations were high and the sessions didn’t disappoint.
I attended two events on Monday, our Posterscope midday session, Storytellers will rule the world and IPA’s 2:00pm session, Who run the world, Girls.
Pleasingly, women were well represented at both of these sessions. Each session consisted entirely of female panellists and the sessions were chaired by Julian Linley of Digital Spy and the IPA’s President Tom Knox respectively.
Diversity is an issue close to my heart, and is often talked about in terms of gender and race. There are the other aspects of diversity we often don’t speak about for example age, culture and other elements that benefit diversity such as cross industry collaboration. Although the advertising industry has a way to go in achieving diversity, both of these sessions got me thinking about how the advertising industry is going about striving to achieve this.
The Posterscope session’s panel was made up of three expert content creators, all of whom have challenged business and marketing norms to build successful, content-based businesses: Sam Baker co-founder, CEO and Editor of The Pool, Kate Thornton founder and editor-in-chief of TBSeen and Gizzi Erskine British chef and award winning food writer.
These entrepreneurial women presented three very different ideas explaining how they would use their content on digital out-of-home (DOOH). They each brought audience insight, awareness and content acumen to their strategies.
The Pool focuses on quality content over quantity, respecting a woman’s busy schedule. Each piece of content is released on a timeline throughout the day and informs the reader the amount of time it will take to consume that content. Therefore, Sam Baker’s strategy focused on timing: owning the commuting journey, bookending a woman’s day with content and information relevant to their frame of mind in the morning versus evening.
Adweek - MU - DEP - The Pool - (002)
Much-loved chef, author, pop-up-restaurant-extraordinaire Gizzi Erskine is a walking, talking, tweeting content creator. Her concept challenged the traditional way the publishing industry works, and took a fresh look at photographic content in DOOH. She focused on providing inspirational images, timed around festive events, from her upcoming book Season’s Eatings, to whet the appetite and give audiences inspiration on what to cook.
At its heart TBSeen is a cash back website. ‘Another?’ I hear you cry. The founders know their audience, and made the essential decision to differentiate TBSeen from competitors by focusing on content first and retail secondary. This ingenious idea has created a community, far beyond a purchase opportunity. Kate Thornton’s strategy mixed useful style hacks with pure entertainment, to provide helpfulness and also bit of light relief, which often gets forgotten.
These women enlightened, inspired an entertained, showing us three new approaches to DOOH with clear strategies that linked to their businesses.
Stepping out of the Posterscope session, I sat down for the IPA’s Who run the world, Girls.
I was looking forward to hearing from another three successful women from a range of creative industries: Harriet Vine Creative Director and Founder of jewellery label Tatty Devine, Lauren Lavern Broadcaster and co-founder of The Pool, and Cat Lewis, CEO and Executive Producer of Nine Lives Media.
This session discussed how workplaces, and specifically advertising workplaces, can encourage gender diversity. Go girls!
Three main themes were discussed.
Changing existing work structures. ‘In our industry, we have this belief that it is essential the client always comes first,’ said Cat Lewis, explaining that this is believed to only be possible in the existing 9 to 5 structure. Her solution was to take the plunge and embrace flexible working options instead of discounting because they haven’t worked before. As each workplace is different it might take several attempts to find the right working structure that works and still focuses on client service.
Female representation in untraditional roles. ‘I remember feeling angry, and I’ve fed off the energy that anger gave me,’ said Harriet Vine. All three women spoke of their experiences building creative businesses and then experiencing an eye opening moment, finding the ‘gatekeepers,’ the financial controllers, were all men, from similar backgrounds who they would have to justify their creative ideas to.
Working with children, not around them. ‘You don’t realise there’s a glass ceiling until you hit it,’ said Lauren Laverne. All three women have allowed their employees to bring children to work in different ways, some have even done this themselves. Another important point was to continue to involve women whilst on maternity leave (if they choose), so they didn’t feel disconnected or left out of what was happening at work.
These sessions left me with two clear thoughts. After the first session I was impressed that three women from outside industries were able to provide a different perspective and such an accurate insight into DOOH.
My second thought was that diversity, whether gender, cultural, racial or cross industry (or even age diversity) facilitates greater creativity.
I’d like to hope we’re able to go one step further. Instead of providing quick-fix solutions to diversity questions, in this instance I’d like to challenge us to do the reverse. Let’s enquire more deeply, call out the problems and issues we see. If we start to notice the tiny, small things that we assume are negligible we will not only draw awareness to these topics, but also be able to sort through the answers together.
By doing this we will not only achieve greater creativity but also greater diversity of thought. And that can only be a good thing for our day jobs.