CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; Dearth of women creatives signals industry problem

In many ways Lesley White, Julie Burchill’s successor (thank God) in the Sunday Times News Review section, has pre-empted this week’s feature, ‘Jobs for the Boys’ (p30), on the advertising industry’s appalling dearth of female creatives. Last Sunday she picked up on some ‘fun’ ads commissioned by the Daily Star following Campaign’s story about the Football Association’s new campaign targeting female fans for the Euro ’96 tournament.

In many ways Lesley White, Julie Burchill’s successor (thank God) in the

Sunday Times News Review section, has pre-empted this week’s feature,

‘Jobs for the Boys’ (p30), on the advertising industry’s appalling

dearth of female creatives. Last Sunday she picked up on some ‘fun’ ads

commissioned by the Daily Star following Campaign’s story about the

Football Association’s new campaign targeting female fans for the Euro

’96 tournament.



The one from Saatchi and Saatchi illustrating her piece featured a

scantily clad Dani Behr and the copy: ‘It’s Giggs, Giggs to Redknapp,

Redknapp to Ferdinand. And Ferdinand scores.’ It was subtitled ‘Lots of

women are enjoying football, why aren’t you?’ Well, probably because the

grounds are full of wallies who think this sort of stuff’s funny. And

that was poetry compared with the Leo Burnett ad featuring David Ginola

- ‘If David can’t get inside you, he’ll go down’ - and Eric Cantona -

‘Could you take Eric’s hard, sliding tackle from behind?’ And then Banks

Hoggins O’Shea played a blinder: a picture of a man’s bum, and, wait for

it - ‘Football, a game of two halves’. Fnaar, bloody, fnaar.



The saddest thing about this is that Lesley White probably didn’t even

have to ‘read’ the Daily Star in order to pick up on the ads. If

Campaign is anything to go by, they were sent to her. The creatives were

actually proud of this rubbish. They’ll probably get them to run for

real some place so that they can enter them for some award and have a

thousand lads at the Grosvenor House chant fnaar! fnaar! in approval.



If I wanted to make the point about why it matters to have more female

creatives and - whisper it - why those female creatives can actually do

ads that aren’t sanpro and cosmetics, I could just end the column here.

But it doesn’t answer the question ‘why?’. Not ‘why aren’t there more

women?’, because I think the almost ubiquitous laddishness of creative

fairyland epitomised by the above spoofs answers that one succinctly.

No, the real question is ‘why does the rest of the industry choose to be

a happy accomplice to the fact?’



Mary Wear remarks that it’s not the number of women that’s the problem

but the lack of recognition for their achievements. Is that really the

problem? It’s surely much more worrying that women aren’t even breaking

through to the first level - ie getting a job - and therefore putting

themselves in a position to achieve future recognition.



Positive discrimination is not the answer. It certainly should not be

necessary, given the obvious talent that exists at higher education

level. The male-dominated creative departments shouldn’t just laugh this

one off, but ask themselves what’s wrong. The current situation only

brings discredit to the industry.



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