Creativity's female future: Meet the next generation of women redefining creativity

Campaign and Creative Equals present the future creative leaders; the women defining creativity today and tomorrow.

Creativity's female future: Meet the next generation of women redefining creativity

Last year, Campaign’s "Future creative leaders" made its debut. The result was a talent-quake. Those who explained away the lack of female creatives in their departments by saying, "We just can’t seem to find the talent", no longer had an excuse.

Now, this list has a life of its own. In 2017, we had 70 entrants; this year, we had 170, all the way up to creative director level. So, with our team of top judges, we cherry-picked creatives with a standout body of work. 

Last year, the IPA’s figures mirrored our own: just 12% of creative directors were women. If you looked for BAME creative leaders among this figure, the proportion dropped to about 1%-2%. Our data shows the overall figure has now moved to about 15%. 

What impressed me is the huge effort many are making to drive change in their own organisations – and the industry.
Charlotte Morton, head of B2B marketing at YouTube

This lack of women at senior levels within creative departments plays a huge factor in the gulf-sized gender pay gap that exists in the creative industry sector. 

Many clients now reject pitch teams without an even gender split, so every creative department needs to act on the leadership gap as a top priority to move this story forwards, faster. This starts with investment in training, equal opportunities for key assignments and clear promotion criteria. Currently, our data shows female creatives are less than half as likely as their male colleagues to receive access to training budgets. 

Our judges have plenty to say on the matter.

"Investing in talent is one of the key ways to right the ratio," Cheyney Robinson, executive creative director and consultant, says.

Rob Doubal and Laurence Thomson, co-presidents and chief creative officers at McCann London, add: "Compared with last year, we’ve seen a huge surge in talented creatives with a broad set of skills and styles. We can’t wait for five years’ time when the output from this industry will be revitalised with the people it represents."

Victoria Buchanan, executive creative director at Tribal Worldwide, points out: "There are a lot of side-hustles and women proud to be a returning mother or an activist alongside their creative work."

Charlotte Morton, head of B2B marketing at YouTube, says: "What impressed me is the huge effort many are making to drive change in their own organisations – and the industry."

Robinson adds: "There is no perfect brief. Perhaps the best and most rewarding projects are those that we drive through our own creativity, experiences and search for meaning – ultimately, we handpicked [the list] on the basis of great work to celebrate."

The winners

Selma Ahmed and Gen de Rohan Wilner

Creatives, Adam & Eve/DDB

"Everybody say Wham!", a 1980s karaoke mash-up masterpiece for H&M, was one of last year’s highlights, according to Prideaux, coming in at third in Campaign’s 2017 "Top 10 film ads". 

At the time of writing, it had been viewed organically more than 11 million times on YouTube. "The accolades from [the pair’s] chief executive are mightily impressive. They are ‘defining a new creative agenda’, they ‘fix the unfixable’ and they are ‘perfectionists’. I agree – they are defining a new creative agenda," Fairbanks says.

Shahnaz Ahmed

Senior designer and creative, Livity; founder and co-director, Knit Aid

Ahmed is the founder of global social initiative Knit Aid. It empowers refugees, connects people and brings communities together. Since the first drop-off of knitted donations to Calais in 2015, Knit Aid has expanded distribution to France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. 

Ahmed also champions diversity through public speaking and mentoring, encouraging people from minority groups to work in the industry. 

"It is a phenomenal testament to her generosity of spirit to see her bring humanity and comfort to those who are displaced and in transition," Robinson says. 

Kate Allsop

Creative director, The & Partnership

Allsop joined The & Partnership as a senior creative. Her most-awarded piece of work is the "Fat cats" campaign for The Sunday Times’ "Rich List", which picked up a gold Lion at Cannes, three golds and two silvers at Creative Circle, gold and silver at the Campaign Big Awards and three D&AD Pencils. According to Thomson and Doubal, the work of Allsop, whose role includes being the creative director on Bull’s-Eye BBQ Sauce for Kraft Heinz, is "populist, energetic and irreverent". 

Lucy Aston

Creative, Fold7 

Aston’s recent work includes CoppaFeel!’s "Trust your touch" campaign, which showed a woman’s nipple on daytime TV for the first time as part of the breast-cancer awareness charity’s quest to normalise self-checking. Recently, she created pitch-winning work for Fold7’s newest client, property website Rightmove, and was involved with Carlsberg’s "The Danish way" spots, which made the list of Campaign’s top 10 film ads for 2017. "Aston has played an important role in the creation of three of Fold7’s most successful ad campaigns over the past 12 months, showing her potential to win business," Buchanan says. 

Nimo Awil

Senior creative, Poke London

Awil and the Poke team’s invitational football tournament series The Wembley Cup amassed 50 million views on YouTube – and recognition in the Webby Awards. "Awil is a strategic creative thinker, seeing the brief in a bigger context and creating work answering business challenges at hand," Buchanan says. 

Rebecca Bell & Clare Trepleton

Creatives, Proximity London

Bell and Trepleton had a landmark year in 2017, winning three DMA golds and a gold Caples Award for their RNLI work. They fought off stiff competition internally and externally to win an open brief against 67 agencies for Disney and two major briefs for Virgin Atlantic. "These two demonstrate an unerring dedication to proper through-the-line thinking. Each of their ideas, no matter at what point they begin, ultimately touches people on a very individual level. The RNLI campaign is my favourite," Fairbanks says.

Tasnim Bhuiyan

Head of social content, Oath/Tumblr 

Bhuiyan is impressive. She stood out among this year’s entries as one of the new breed of creatives trailblazing "content first". She demonstrates a breadth of creativity, whether that be in hand-coding motion-detection installations in her spare time or illustrating her own comic games. She singlehandedly runs The NXT, a global network of influencers, pioneers and artists, and has led the social strategy of some of the world’s biggest brands, from creating papercraft art with HP to organising influencer-led campaigns for Clarins, 20th Century Fox and British Airways. 

Morag Bruce

Editor-in-chief, AnalogFolk

Bruce is living proof that "content is king". She has set up an editorial division within AnalogFolk, one of the fastest-growing arms of its business, selling in editorial written by sharp, savvy journalists to brands such as Booking.com, BT and others. 

Melissa Cain

Creative director, McCann London  

Cain has the winning combination of a business head and a creative heart. After four consecutive pitch triumphs, she won the global Pandora jewellery business, repositioning the brand with its "Do" campaign to empower women. Cain demonstrates the ability to solve business problems in effective, well-crafted and thought-provoking ways.

Lisa Campana

Design director, Moo 

In Campana’s three years at Moo, she has created an award-winning team, with recognition at the HOW Awards, Hatch Awards, MYWW In-house Awards and Graphic Design USA Awards. As Buchanan says: "Campana is one of those rising stars stepping into her stride. I like her clean, simple, elegant work."

Natalie Deeble

Associate creative director, Google Brand Studio 

Described by McOwen-Banks as "directional and inspiring", Deeble’s outstanding piece of work is "Searching for Syria". In an answer to search queries, Deeble and the team created an interactive experience to help people learn in a way that broke down stereotypes and biases. While at Google, she has also created an educational VR experience to teach children about renewable energy and retrofitted a piano made in 1870 so that it plays visual animations, intended to help people who are scared of technology. 

Valentina D’Efilippo

Creative director, Signal Noise 

D’Efilippo was the wildcard of the bunch. However, her data visualisation is stunning. Described as a "visual deconstruction", her self-initiated project "OddityViz" is a tribute to the David Bowie song Space Oddity. The project visualises data from the 1969 track, deconstructing melodies, harmonies, lyrics, structure and story. "Fascinating stuff," Robinson says. 

Lex Down

Creative director, Grey London 

Down’s peer, creative director Nick Rowland, sums her up thus: "She has that hard-to-attain knack of focusing on the important and not getting waylaid by the irrelevant. She has a tremendous ability to bring people in around a problem, encouraging and cajoling in equal measure, so that they can’t help but be enabled and inspired." 

Her recent work includes Bose’s "However you feel", McVitie’s "Crane" and Scope’s "End the awkward" campaigns, with the latter designed to start conversations about treating those with a disability as equals.  

Rosie Ferris

Experience designer, UsTwo

Ferris previously designed products and services at Method and FutureBrand (including digital experiences for Lush Cosmetics and international type foundry Dalton Maag). 

Her latest project is an education platform, available to students and teachers worldwide, which will bring equal opportunities for access to a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) curriculum. With the use of emerging technology, the platform will result in the creation of a high-end, state-of-the-art digital science lab. 

"I was struck by Ferris’ commitment to social impact through product design," Robinson says. "Her work challenges our industry to recognise the potential that [we have] to create positive and lasting change, with meaningful impact. Additionally, the experience design and interface work in her portfolio demonstrated impeccable craft in typography and art direction."

Annie Fox

Associate creative director, Iris Worldwide

Fox’s "Jackets" campaign for Superdry exceeded KPIs across the board. The film, which featured a standout vocal performance from grime star Paigey Cakey, was picked out on David Reviews and Creativity Online. It garnered more than 12 million views, which drove 25,000 verified store visits. 

This campaign followed two standout campaigns for car marque Mini, all of which was achieved by Fox at the same time as managing junior teams and leading Iris Worldwide’s work on diversity and inclusivity. 

Franki Goodwin

Outstanding achievement    

Creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi 

Until this list, Goodwin had been an unsung creative legend, shaping beautifully crafted, insightful work across touchpoints with her roots firmly in film. 

After graduating from the Glasgow School of Art, she started Franki & Jonny – a design and digital agency for entertainment brands. She joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 2013. Since then, she has landed more than 100 international advertising awards, including 60 (12 Cannes Lions) for "Sea hero quest", a landmark project on dementia developed for Deutsche Telekom. "Goodwin is redefining what creative is," McOwen-Banks says. 

Kat Hahn

Creative strategist, Facebook

Over the past year, Hahn has stepped into an interim role, leading the Northern Europe team at Facebook’s Creative Shop. She has steered the business, while nurturing creative talent and developing work across the platform for clients such as Heineken, Studiocanal and Marks & Spencer for the movie Paddington 2. To give back to the industry, she has recently launched a training programme for creatives returning to work after an extended parenting break.  

Malin Hanås

Creative director, Poke 

Swedish-born furniture-maker Hanås has been quietly going from strength to strength in her role at Poke. She pitched and led the digital work for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics to illuminate refugee camps, which has so far 

provided light to 54,000  refugees in Rwanda. More recently, she won the Essity (Bodyform) account and is now breaking taboos in femcare. 

Angela Hayrabedyan

Creative, R/GA

Over the past couple of years Hayrabedyan has produced work blending craft, technology and creativity to maximum impact. 

Her standout pieces include "Guinness 119.5 seconds", emphasising the stout’s craft credentials, a Nike iD digital out-of-home campaign, creating Nike Air Max sneakers based on the clothes viewers were wearing at that particular moment, and Guinness Africa’s "Made of black" work. The latter featured former Arsenal and France player and current football pundit Thierry Henry. 

She is blazing a trail with simple, effective ideas, fused with strong art direction.

Charlotte Hugh

Creative, Digitas

Morton picked out Hugh’s work for Crunchy Nut, which repositioned the cereal outside the breakfast category as an evening snack. "She has amazing testimonials from across the industry, and I love ‘Badass girls’ for the Young Creative Council," Morton says. 

Gina Kelly and Olga Pope

Art director and writer, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Kelly and Pope have worked on more than 30 brands ranging from Pepsi Max and the Metropolitan Police to Mars. They have won a growing number of awards, including a D&AD Pencil. 

"One of the standout moments was Bodyform’s radical transformation from one of the ‘blue liquid brigade’ to challenging the taboos of periods," Fairbanks says. "This shows they are here to be the kind of challengers our industry needs."

Juliet Kent

Copywriter, Now 

Kent and her partner won an open brief to create a smash hit for a "viral email idea" for the Women’s Equality Party to raise awareness around Equal Pay Day on 10 November. The "Out of office (for the rest of the year)" work started as an email chain of 48 people in the agency, but ended up reaching more than 1.2 billion. 

Anna Rose Kerr

Creative lead, Havas London 

Kerr was the mastermind behind one of Havas London’s most celebrated and ambitious pieces of work, which defied all odds – and gravity. Whisky brand Ballantine’s "Space glass" was a feat in product design, astrophysics and brand storytelling. The campaign won awards at Cannes, Eurobest and Epica. 

Buchanan also commends Kerr for showing "her abilities as a leader, working with a talented team of junior creatives to shape the work for the muscular-dystrophy charity Harrison’s Fund".

Tamryn Kerr

Associate creative director, Joint London 

Kerr stormed into her career with a dazzling array of awards at Colenso BBDO in New Zealand. Over the years, she has turned a conveyor belt into a lava flow for Visa and taken Britain to the US for British Airways as well as opening up a conversation about the gender pay gap in advertising. In her spare time she is an illustrator and, last year, launched The Trumphabet, an illustration project inspired by the turbulent reign of Donald Trump, voted The London Egotist blog’s favourite work of 2017. "A true creative," Buchanan says. 

Eloise King

Outstanding achievement  

Director, executive producer, Vice UK;  digital programming and global executive producer, i-D

As executive producer of Vice, King oversees all digital channels in the UK (including Broadly), in addition to i-D’s content globally. She leads commissioning, development and production across a wide range of programming – from headline-grabbing documentaries to arts, culture and fashion. King has also created, developed and directed the Gurls Talk Instagram series, with its founder and model Adwoa Aboah. "King was a clear winner for me," Robinson says. "Her work is brave, brilliant and vital. Her craft uplifts and champions unheard voices, which makes her a very powerful storyteller. She has an exceptional sense of curation and fluency in the subversive, and is a tastemaker."  

Sarah Lefkowith

Creative, FCB Inferno

Leftkowith has produced consistently award-winning work. She is one of the creatives behind the "This girl can" campaign’s "Phenomenal women" campaign's and Uefa’s "Together #WePlayStrong" work among many others. 

She has landed awards across numerous disciplines, including two Cannes Lions (and four shortlists) and two Campaign Marketing New Thinking Awards. She was also named in the digital industry’s BIMA 100 list. Leftkowith leads new-media and emerging-technology projects, taking client thinking beyond traditional communication norms. She also created the agency’s first chatbot, and has worked on AR, VR and voice projects. 

Molly Manners

Creative and director, 4Creative and Academy 

Manners has developed a unique tone of voice, writing and directing award-winning campaigns for Channel 4, including "Funny fortnight", "Short shorts" for 4OD and "Super sickie" for the NFL, as well as directing her own BFI- and Creative England-funded short Here Boy. Manners runs the 4Creative placement scheme, allowing her to mentor diverse creative talent. "She nails the art of storytelling in film," Prideaux says. 

Susan Milanovic

Senior creative, Good Agency 

Australian Milanovic relocated to London in 2013. She has produced some remarkable work with the NSPCC, RNIB and Plan International UK. 

In Uganda, one in four teenage girls is either pregnant or already a mother. Milanovic worked with brave and inspiring young people to change this statistic as part of the Plan International UK "Because I am a girl" campaign. 

"This work was executed simply, with incredible cultural sensitivity. Milanovic has avoided the usual tropes of Western ‘saviour’ charity work in Africa and showcases the young people involved in changing the future. Superb," Robinson says. 

Kate Murphy

Creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

In 2017, Murphy stepped into the position of creative director, taking on leadership of a team of 10. Her emotive work for Tesco on its Father’s Day "Tannoy takeover" received more than seven million views across YouTube and Facebook, plus her branded-content work for KFC and Virgin Media’s "Cats" shows an emerging body of compelling creative. 

Katy Sumpton

Co-founder and creative director, The Elephant Room

Over the past six months as co-founder of agency start-up The Elephant Room, Sumpton’s leadership has gathered pace, with an impressive track record of landing business. The agency, built on concepts of agility, diversity and the "real world", has produced compelling work, including a global campaign for Fruit Shoot, intended to help children find their sense of self. 

Powerful projects

Leyya Sattar (left) and Roshni Goyate created The Other Box

Beki Reilly, creative, 360i

Last year, Reilly created "Colour up next Tuesday. A feminist colouring book", which empowers women to take back negative, derogatory words for the vagina. "C.U.N.T." was launched on KickStarter, where it reached its target in 10 days and picked up some incredible coverage across Glamour, HuffPost, Metro, Bustle and Design Taxi.

Leyya Sattar, designer, MYWW, and Roshni Goyate, copywriter

While working four days a week at their jobs, Sattar and Goyate run The Other Box, championing people of colour and minorities working in the industry, gathering interest from the BBC Asian Network and HuffPost among others. 


Meigan Brown, senior creative, Karmarama; Ashika Chahan, digital creative director,
Big Dog Agency; Lauren Farmer, senior creative, MullenLowe; Megan Fowler, art director, M&C Saatchi; Anna Grudeva, creative, Quiet Storm; Sarah Hardcastle, creative,
Mr President; Cass Jamcotchian and Haley Power, creative team, Leo Burnett;
Jane Kinnard, creative strategist, Facebook; Lottie Marriner, senior creative, Cheil;
Ana Nicolau, creative director, Wizzard; Sammi Richardson, experience designer,
MRM Meteorite; Ran Stallard, creative, Ogilvy. 

Special mentions

To those changing diversity in the industry with their "side-hustles": Fabiana Xavier, president of decade-strong network SheSays, and creative at Saatchi & Saatchi;
Amie Snow, creative, and co-founder of Ogilvy Roots; Zainab Khan of #trailblazingmuslimwomen; Naomi Grant, director/producer of Lambb’s 50 Shades of Melanin; and Erika Baltusyte, designer, Wolff Olins, and founder member, Her Stories, supporting vulnerable women (the judges also commended her design work). 

Campaign and Creative Equals bring #CELeaders, a one-day leadership conference, to the LSO, St Luke’s, 9am-11pm, 16 May. Tickets via creativeequals.org/events