‘That’s why Mums go to Iceland’, a chatty voiceover concludes in the budget supermarket’s latest ad. We’ve heard this slogan repeatedly – since the mid-noughties in fact – but let’s take a moment to consider its significance.
I am livid. Can someone please tell me, for Pete’s sake, when Dad is going to get off his backside and do the bloody shopping for once?
I am not leveling this at the real Dads of this world. My own lovely Father did ALL the supermarket shopping, and cooking, and cleaning, throughout my indolent teenage years. I am talking about the Dads of the grossly caricatured, down right sexist, bull**** nonsense world of the advertising industry.
I’m aware that brands need to speak to their consumers, and that stereotypes can be an effective (aka lazy) way of doing this. But the industry is lagging woefully behind the times. A survey by The Breakout Room found that 40% of men claim to be solely responsible for grocery shopping in their households, 53% claim to have joint responsibility, and only 7% claim to have no responsibility at all.*
Iceland aren’t the only culprits. Thanks, Proctor & Gamble, for your uplifting Olympic campaign last summer; ‘P&G: Proud Sponsor of Mums’. Despite the well-deserved attention women’s sport has finally been receiving, we were still constantly reminded throughout last summer of our duty to reproduce. Thank goodness we have use of P&G’s wonderful product range to clean, feed and nurture our offspring. If we’re really lucky, we might be allowed to live our lives vicariously through said offspring. Lucky us.
But at least we can look great whilst going about our daily duties. ‘We’ve been married for 15 years; that’s three moves, five jobs, two newborns – it’s no wonder I’m getting grey’, a handsome-looking male model reflects. ‘But Kate still looks like…Kate’. Cut to shots of perfectly-preened hair-swishing female model.
I’m sorry, what? You’ve been married for 15 years, and you’ve NEVER noticed that your wife dyes her hair (using a home hair dying kit)?
That’s not even the best part. Have you heard the slogan? ‘With Nice n’ Easy, all they see is you’. You with fake hair, a tonne of makeup and airbrushed within an inch of your life. That’s right ladies – forget the house moves, new jobs and newborns – your biggest worry is that hubby might find out your real hair colour.
It’s high time for change. No more man-sized tissues (I am living proof that women have big noses too), I will damn well eat a Yorkie bar if I want to, and woe-betide any man I encounter displaying his ‘WKD’ side.
And on a more serious note, though we are no longer in the 1950s, violence towards women is still a huge issue, women still earn on average 14.9% less than men for the same job*, and only 22% of our MPs are women. We are under-represented, over-pressured and underpaid, and these not-so-subtle advertising messages perpetuate the backward attitudes which lead to an unjustly skewed and gendered society.
So please let’s turn the tide, break the mould, and give the advertising industry a massive boot up the backside. Let us all go forth and change the world for the better, for both men (who are fully capable of doing the shopping, cleaning and childcare), and women.
*The Fawcett Society
04.06.13, Florence Wilkinson, Senior Account Manager
It’s coming up to International Women’s Day (8th March) where, across the world, major issues regarding women’s safety, opportunity and equality are being discussed and campaigned for.
Where does the UK stand when it comes to equality at work? Well according to the 30% Club – a group of chairmen voluntarily committed to bringing more women onto UK Boards – only 15% of FTSE 100 board director positions are currently held by women. We have the second lowest figures in Europe, higher only than Spain. Not only does this put a huge glass ceiling on career opportunities for women but actually makes bad business sense. McKinsey reports that companies with strong female representation at board and senior management level perform better than those without.
Hearing this left me thinking about the industry I find myself in. By general observation, the figures are not markedly different in advertising, marketing and media agencies. Whilst most have pretty much a 50/50 male/female split, the number of women holding MD, CSD, Planning, Creative or Finance Director roles is still relatively small.*
Is this because women don’t want positions of leadership and responsibility? Of course not. I think there is a tendency for women to under-value their own skills and experience, and this puts them at a disadvantage when building their reputation and creating opportunities in male-dominated environments. Also, the relatively low numbers of female successful role models often compounds stereotypes and reinforces perceptions that it’s impossible to make it to the top. Sure, men can be great role models for women too, but why shouldn’t women have other women that they can emulate, learn from, be inspired and mentored by?
As women we need to be champions, supporters and role models for each other. But what else can we be doing to make sure we create brilliant opportunities for ourselves?
1. Get networked. Get out there and meet your peers, potential employers and clients in whatever ways you can, through events and training. Evidence suggests poor networks are the second biggest cause of women’s lack of senior representation.
2. Know your numbers. No matter whether you’re an account handler or creative, making the wider business your business is hugely important. Do you know where you are on your annual forecast? Do you know your Profit & Loss Report from your Balance Sheet? Having a real understanding of how your agency is running will give you the confidence and legitimacy to influence the business at a senior level.
3. Build your own brand. Decide what about our industry excites or annoys you and have a point of view. Find opportunities to comment in the press, write blogs, enter awards or speak at events. Shout about your own achievements, and those of your team and agency.
4. Find a mentor. Or two if you can, ideally one outside of your organisation and one woman. They’re great to give you fresh points of view on everything from client problems to internal challenges and carving out career pathways. Who knows, they might also put interesting opportunities in front of you in the future.
5. Have a plan. Ok, you might not want to answer that inevitable ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years time’ interview question, but it is important to have some idea of where you want to be. The better you can vision that for yourself, the more other people (your managers, your mentors, even your team) will be able to help you get there.
So this 8th March, I’d invite you all to try and do at least one of the above – for yourself and for all the other women that you’ll be a role model for in the future.
*At this point I’d like to blow a small Livity trumpet. As well as having a female MD, we actually have a leadership team made up of 70% women.
05.03.13, Alex Goat, Client Servicing Director
If I were a gambling woman, I’d say odds are I’ve seen about 100 different adverts for various betting sites and shops over the last few days.
Quite frankly, that depresses me. No, beyond that, it makes me a bit angry. And I don’t like to be angry; but hear me out.
Watching the FA Cup (yawnsville, but very good girlfriend points) there were about seven different moments where a betting brand was in my face; the ad breaks, the boarding on the pitch side, the shirts of the little men running around the pitch (think it was those chaps who have the nice purple and blue outfits…) For a non-gambling girl I was starting to feel compelled to spend my hard earned cash on a late long shot. “Stop, power of marketing, stop!”, my inner willpower had to yell at me through explanations of the off side rule.
To give you a sense of what I’m talking about, William Hill spends around £14,000,000 (more than Blackberry and Panasonic), with another five betting brands snapping at their heals with the ‘modest’ yearly spend of £3 – 5million each. In my opinion there is only one team winning here, and it isn’t the consumer.
And it’s not just on telly. The proliferation of betting shops are focused around low income areas and have machines at the front of the shop where people can place £100 bets in one go. Hold on; this isn’t Vegas with its high rollers, this is Peckham last time I checked. The Gambling Commission found that gambling problems were highest amongst men, the young, the unemployed and in deprived areas. And that is how betting companies decide where to set up shop, because they know there is unquestionable demand, no matter how unethical.
Under current planning law, bookmakers have the same use class as banks, credit unions and estate agents, despite the very different socio-economic impact we see and feel on our community. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike estate agents as much as the next girl, but that is just bonkers.
I want to tackle this with a positive approach. What, other than a huge injection into the economy, can the gambling industry really bring to the future of the country?
Currently William Hill’s corporate social responsibility is around charitable donations via employee activities. Donations of £985,650m, with the majority going to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, which supports research, education and treatment of problem gambling. Hhhhmmmm. I think charitable donations to charities helping those with a problem you are systemic in creating are a great way to ease your conscience, but I want more.
Could betting shops:
- Usefully translate the entrepreneurial character trait of risk-taking that is essential with gambling, and turn gamblers into entrepreneurs and masters of their own fortunes?
- Be a safe place in town for young men to talk about their problems, to help tackle the biggest killer of that group, depression leading to suicide? Tips to dealing with / talking about problems on the back of every betting slip would be a start…
- Create a space in every shop where people can find out more about jobs / careers / training?
- Help teach better Maths and financial literacy skills in an environment where numerical knowledge pays off. (Finance can be a bit dry, but we think our C4 campaign The Stake shows how to make it exciting)
It’s a long shot, as they say in the trade, but I think we’ve just got to keep asking how, how, how? Come on, William Hill, get in touch and let’s take a punt on it together.
Or for lighter relief to see what more amusing and inappropriate sport sponsorship there is, check out this.
25.02.13, Kate Brundle, Business Development and Marketing Director
When I left Brooklyn in March of 2009 Chris was in trouble. That Spring he was eighteen, about to graduate and go to university. He wasn’t running from the law or addicted to drugs. But I was leaving before my commitment to him was complete and that was painful for both of us. He very wisely, respectfully and sharply let me know how he felt. We had been matched four years earlier through Stoked Mentoring, a peer-to-peer programme based on surfing, skating and snowboarding. Simple: you fall, you get back up. Together, we carved and charged down blacks and blues, dodging skiers and catching sceptical looks in the lodge; caught waves at Far Rockaway, made famous by the Ramones and recently devastated by Hurricane Sandy; and shredded through the streets of the L.E.S. That mentoring programme changed my life as well as his. Stoked’s first Mentoring Pair of the Year, official photogs for Red Bull’s Manny Manual Contest and celeb-spotting in the Village, whizzing through boroughs on trains and boards, I tried to keep up and am convinced I learned more from him than he from me. But then I left. It was a difficult transition, to say the least.
I came to the UK with a skill set and experiences centred around serving young people. When I found Livity, with its prioritisation of purpose over profit, I knew I was in the right place. Their ethos matched that of the Urban League, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, City Year and other places that taught me how to be, live, work all my adult life in the United States.
As I searched for possibilities I began volunteering at Live Magazine. The staff and editorial crew welcomed my quirky learning curve with open arms. As I got my Master’s my commitment ebbed and flowed. When it came time to conduct interviews on the role of volunteer mentors to at-risk youth I found three through the Live family.
This winter I have joined the somewhereto_ team as Regional Delivery Partner in London, helping brilliant youth find space to do the things they love, gain skills and have better life choices. Risking hyperbole, it is a dream come true. To interpolate Django’s now-famous line, get paid to help youth shine? What’s not to love?
Over the past four years, I have kept up with Chris, hanging out when I return home, and keeping up on the phone, Facebook and twitter. I have watched as he continued his transition into manhood, wrote letters of recommendation when needed and checked his adolescence and ignorance when illicit events of the nights before spilled out over Facebook in living colour and lewd language the morning after. It was a struggle, mentoring from overseas, not able to look him in the eye and shake him of bad choices that eyes he’s never even met would surely judge him for. But in the past four years, as I have found my feet, so has he.
The day I learned my fate at somewhereto_ I found out that Chris had been hired in an official capacity at Stoked Mentoring. I was over the moon with pride and joy. This feeling is akin to being at the top of that mountain, snapping into our bindings, dodging evil looks from locals and taking that first leap. It is the culmination of a journey of acclamation and adjustment here in a new country. And it is the continuation of a life’s work making opportunities for young people, born into a family of artists, activists and educators and living like I have never met a stranger, eager to serve. I dedicate this success and my work to Chris and all of the young people that keep me sharp, young and focus my motivation.
20.02.13, Jason Page, Regional Delivery Partner for somewhereto_
Well that’s what some would have you believe, but in actual fact I see 2013 as my best year ever! It marks my tenth anniversary in the world of youth work and what a crazy journey it’s been. I could become Livity’s resident blogger for the next six months and I don’t think I’d run out of material, but today I want to talk to you about one part of the last 10 years – the part spent as a Regional Delivery Partner for Livity’s space matching service for young people, somewhereto_.
Now my background, passion and interest in youth work has been, and always will be about youth empowerment and participation – getting young people to improve their own lives, and the lives of others. I began doing this through setting up Youth Forums and Youth Parliaments and believed there was no other way of getting young people to make an impact – how wrong I was!
Over the last 12 months I have helped engage over 400 young people in activities around arts, sports and culture. I have set up pop up shops, festivals, conferences and debates and I even accompanied a group of young people to perform in the Olympic Park, whilst at the same time ensuring that the North West was the top performing region in terms of finding diverse and unique opportunities for young people.
My greatest professional success to date? Engaging young people from an ethnic minority background in the arts. Coming from a Pakistani background, the arts have always been seen as a dangerous “thing” – something that will ruin your reputation. So to be able to say that out of those 400 young people I’ve engaged, at least 25% of them are from a South Asian background – many of whom will have family and friends who have a negative outlook on the arts – has been a great achievement.
Personally, I feel that working on somewhereto_ has taught me a lot – by actually just giving young people an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents you can make such a difference. 2012. The year of Olympics and the Jubilee. The year where my outlook on youth work and working with young people changed. The year that if I could, I’d love to live all over again!
If you want to hear more of my stories why not send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll be happy to share them with you (that’s if I’m not incredibly busy helping out young people!)
01.02.13, Jaffer Hussain, somewhereto_ Regional Delivery Partner