As Creative Equals’ "Future Leaders" list enters its third year, it is clear that it is needed more than ever. By highlighting the emerging female creatives who will define the next generation, appearing on the list can also serve to define their careers.
In considering who to include, the judges looked at future-facing creative skills in their broader sense, focusing on craft, ideas and standout campaigns. "Future Leaders is more important than ever," Nishma Robb, head of marketing at Google, says. "It step-changes careers and puts women on the industry’s talent map."
The need for industry change is urgent. Creative Equals’ recent data shows 75% of creative women have a male boss, their work is 10% less likely to be entered for awards and 12% of female creatives are thinking of leaving the industry over the next two years. Against a backdrop of non-inclusive cultures and deep bias in career progression structures, just 12%-16% of creative directors across design, concept and film are female.
This is a key factor behind the industry’s gender pay gap. Creative Equals’ Equality Standard shows creative women are 30% less likely to have any training, are not given the same quality of feedback as their male peers and are less likely to get access to key assignments. Mentors, sponsors and role models are the key to change, which is what will transform this story for the industry.
"It is always such an inspiring and uplifting process to be part of," Becky McOwen-Banks, creative director of FCB Inferno, says.
Nishma Robb, head of marketing, Google
Tamryn Kerr, creative director, VMLY&R
Emma Hopkins, head of creative strategy, Spotify UK
Becky McOwen-Banks, creative director, FCB Inferno
Richard Robinson, managing partner, Econsultancy
Sue Higgs, group creative director, Grey London
Cheyney Robinson, creative consultant
Creative director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Adjoran has helped nurture "returning parents" roles at AMV to get more women back into the creative department in pioneering half-time positions. She champions neurodiversity and has published pieces on her own son’s struggles with autism. Her advertising work for Lotto, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Cancer Research UK and Whiskas has been awarded at D&AD, Cannes, Creative Circle and British Arrows, while her radio spot for the Metropolitan Police was voted one of the IPA’s Best Radio Ads of the Decade.
Creative director, Drum
Following Baker’s arrival, the past two years at Drum have been the agency’s most successful creatively with more than 30 awards wins. Drum was ranked in the UK top 15 awarded agencies at Cannes in 2017 and named UK Content Agency of the Year in 2018. The HP Omen "Esports report" created a platform for female players and presenters, giving a minority audience a voice and helping Omen champion diversity in UK esports while raising brand awareness by 10%. "We see her best is yet to come," Robinson says.
Global editor-in-chief, August Media
Bazuaye is one of a new breed of creatives, leading award-winning content for Ikea, August Media client and one of the world’s biggest brands. When one of her briefs for Ikea magazine was to cover the subject of living with children, she looked for ways to inspire readers by moving outside the standard nuclear unit of 2.4 children. Bazuaye sourced a diverse range of families, including Kirsty and Clara from the UK, who live with their son in Clara’s mother’s loft. This makeover story provoked a media storm in Russia, where it came up against the country’s anti-gay legislation, but proved how Ikea stands for equality. Recently, however, when Bazuaye madeover the one-room apartment of Donald, aka drag queen Ginger, no-one batted an eyelid.
Sophia Ben Yedder
Design director, M&C Saatchi
"Ben Yedder’s work is nothing short of conceptually sophisticated and brilliantly executed," comments Kerr. She is a design trailblazer. Ben Yedder’s most recent work was to create M&ke, a new business venture within M&C Saatchi that fulfils clients’ additional needs for content-driven media. As the creative driving force of the operation, Ben Yedder is enjoying the challenge of working with new emerging formats to solve design problems. She is also a mentor for Carbon Academy, a scheme to help young females gain access to industry insiders and experience in creative departments.
Creative director, McCann London
Boulter started as a journalist and then worked as a creative for luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Harrods and Net-a-Porter before leaping into advertising at Spring Studios and Atelier Leo Burnett. Now the creative director of McCann London, she runs the Godiva global account and led the London creative team to win pitches in London, New York and Tokyo. A creative force with a desire to elevate every brand into a premium consumer experience, Boulter is one to watch.
Brown was one to watch last year. She’s quietly building up a strong body of work, including "Pride camo" for the Army (which won silver at Creative Circle), "Operation magic" flying bikes for Just Eat and Nando’s "Card heists", where giant Nando’s loyalty cards could be torn down from billboards. Brown picked up AdCan’s New Directors Award with her creative partner for "Time to tell the truth" for charity United We Dream.
Design director, Impero
"It gives me great delight to recognise Adeline Chong for the design and brand launch of the new strawberry gin by Beefeater London," Robinson says. "Chong’s eclectic and playful graphic language in the work is a bold and daring move for the 143-year-old gin brand. The Beefeater Pink campaign can be seen across the globe in out-of-home, packaging and digital. In particular, the animated shorts are gorgeous."
Creative director, Kindred
"Curran is changing the world with her campaigns – I loved ‘Invisible people’ for the National Crime Agency," says McOwen-Banks. The work raised awareness of the existence of approximately 13,000 modern slaves in the UK. The campaign travelled across the UK and picked up numerous awards but, more importantly, two victims of modern slavery made themselves known. Curran’s work for the National Citizen’s Service also made an impact, signing up more than 100,000 young people, many from low socio-economic backgrounds, to its summer programme. The work picked up the Best Use of YouTube for Good and Best Influencer Campaign prizes at the UK Content Awards.
Creative director, The Elephant Room
Davids, a woman of Indian/Jamaican heritage raised in the care system, believes diversity is a catalyst for creativity and her background has given her the tools to be a success. Self-motivated, Davids has built a boundary-pushing advertising career, becoming one of London’s first black female creative directors. After studying advertising and graphics in Salford, Davids was offered a creative role at McCann, where she created the "Knitting nanas" campaign for Nestlé Shreddies.
Creative director, MTV UK and International
Dunn joined MTV UK three years ago as a senior creative and has enjoyed a rapid promotion to her current position. After just a year in her job, her team won Creative Channel of the Year at the 2018 Promax Awards. The first shoot she directed was "Films for life" for Film 4 and she recently created the "Born risky" brand spot for Channel 4; Dunn aims to continue her ascent to the top of the industry.
Associate creative director, Refinery29 UK
"Fleuriot is the new hybrid," Robb says. Associate creative director at Refinery29 UK and leading The29th creative team, Fleuriot has gained more than a decade of experience across creative agencies, media owners, content marketing and brand communications. She has a long-standing specialism in fashion and lifestyle, having worked on projects for Adidas Originals, A&E, Asos, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Boden and Hearst Magazines.
Head of visual content, M&C Saatchi
"Gray stood out among this year’s entries and demonstrated a breadth of creativity in effective, well-crafted and endearing ways," Hopkins says. Gray is a creative who blurs the line between art and advertising and believes art is the cure to poor mental health. To highlight the problem of excessive social media use, she worked with photographer Rankin to create "Selfie harm", a series of 15 portraits of teenagers, who each edited their image until they felt their photo was ready for social media. She also co-created "Visual diet" with Marine Tanguy of MT Art, which has reached more than 70 million people across the globe.
Anna Jobbins and Kate Lloyd
Creative team, Havas London
"These two dynamos are killing it at Havas," Robinson says. Under the watch of creative powerhouse Lynsey Atkin, their ethos is "to balance making great work with passion and the responsibility to make the creative industry an open place for everyone". Their standout work for Durex’s global "Ladies, let’s lube" campaign takes an honest look at female sexual discomfort in a fun and empowering way. "This campaign gives women the inspiration, knowledge, tools and product to enjoy sex without compromise," Higgs comments.
Creative director, Publicis Sapient
The judges were struck by Jugovic’s ability to push creative technologies and to join the dots to create memorable experiences. Outstanding output included last year’s "Databloom", a live-data art installation that brought to life a new data-driven future for consumers and business and that won an Echo bronze award for art direction, and work for Amplifon, a hearing aid. Jugovic’s work has picked up Baftas, D&AD Pencils, Cannes Cyber Lions and Clios.
Creative, Adam & Eve/DDB
Leach is blazing an award-winning trail with her partner Chris Bowsher. So far, her work includes Hertz "Cleaned out", which won at the Andys, BTAA, LIA and Epica and was shortlisted at Cannes and Campaign Big, plus "Temptations pack attack" where 15 cats were let loose on a box of cat treats to highlight the product’s irresistibility. The ad picked up awards at Cannes, D&AD, Campaign Big, Clio and featured in Campaign’s top 10 print ads of the year. Leech says: "With games starting to feel more like films, and interactive films like Black Mirror Bandersnatch on Netflix starting to look more like games, the breakdown of traditional media categories makes this an exciting time for creativity."
Maria Inês Leiria and Sara Soares
Associate creative directors, Wunderman
This duo has been together for six years, working in two counties and two languages. Their notable output includes work for Amnesty International Portugal, where the brief was to increase petition signatures by creating the world’s first "signature bank". The judges loved the team’s inclusive approach to rebranding Heist tights plus their "Live for the story" social campaign for Cannon, which attracted 70,000 followers in just two weeks.
Executive creative director, Cake
Majid will be one of the industry’s next chiefs. She has had an impressive year, launching BBC Sounds on the London Eye, creating a vineyard in King’s Cross and winning six pitches including Gordon’s Gin. She has judged at Cannes, Creative Circle, Creativepool and Campaign’s Brand Film Festival, and her work has won at Cannes and picked up countless PR, social and content awards.
Lorelei Mathias and Nathalie Turton
Creative directors, Publicis London
The road to leadership isn’t always smooth, particularly when motherhood comes along. The industry puts up many barriers and Turton wrote an article for Campaign about her attempts to return to work after maternity leave. Now, delighted her job offer was retracted, she has had a phenomenal year. Mathias is a film director, performer, three-times-published novelist, founder of sketch channel Melon Comedy and a neurodiversity champion.
Senior creative, Mcgarrybowen London
Over her 11-year career, McGovern has worked at the best agencies in London and Ireland. She specialises in work that generates conversations outside advertising and her Tesco "Tampon tax off" campaign at Bartle Bogle Hegarty did just that. In less than a year at Mcgarrybowen, she has made her mark by helping to win the Mothercare pitch. McGovern was the instigator of the Transport for London "Women we see" competition and the campaign that resulted was category changing. "It was arguably one of the most talked-about pieces of work this year," Kerr says.
Jenna Morrisey and Ran Stallard
Creative team, McCann London
This team has created campaigns for Xbox, eBay, Mastercard, Chivas Regal and Microsoft in a short space of time. In partnership with Greenpeace, Stallard and Morrissey created "The ocean of the future", which filled an aquarium with plastic instead of fish and invited schoolchildren to view it. It was nominated for a British Arrow and, at the time of writing, the corresponding call for a reduction in plastic has generated nearly a million signatures.
Designer, McCann London
Motegheria is an introvert but her design work is making a huge impact on the world. One of her most recent pieces for the McCann team was the Cannes Lion Grand Prix Winner for Xbox. It revolutionised the concept of customisation by giving gamers the chance to design and sell unique controllers. She was part of the core team that worked on Subway’s "Double the feel good" ad and also on "Toxic toby", an initiative to highlight how air pollution is the biggest killer on UK roads.
Senior creative, The & Partnership
One of Oakley’s recent pieces of work, "80 days of Argos" won twice at Cannes. Rather than make one ad, the agency made 80, going against the norm and producing something no-one thought possible. McOwen-Banks also loved Oakley’s Hive campaign, which linked DOOH posters to train, bus and flight arrival times to show customers exactly when Hive would be of use to them in the real world.
Freelance creative director
O’Meara, once one of the few creative women on the Irish scene, is starting to make her mark in London. Hopkins was drawn to O’Meara’s range of work, which ranged from her pro-bono charity campaign #MakeAllWomenSafe, which focused on decriminalising sex workers, to her more populist ads for Kettle Chips.
Associate creative director, AnalogFolk
"Pouri is gaining momentum," Kerr says of the creative director of AnalogFolk’s most famous campaign, "Marmite taste face". It was number two in Campaign’s top 10 digital innovations and inspired other clients to see the potential in creative technology. Kerr also loves "Knorr eat your feed", which matches meals to memories using artificial intelligence. With strong commercial acumen, Pouri has scaled up the work for existing clients and bought in new ones.
Creative director, AKQA
Robinson is one of the industry’s unsung champions. She leads creative teams and clients across social, content and brand development. Robinson is passionate about the power of brand voice, tonality and positioning. She has guided many of AKQA’s clients, including Rolls-Royce, Bulgari and TAG Heuer, to find the perfect expression of their brands. The Rolls-Royce.com platform redesign was award winning. "Understanding the power of brands and leading clients into creative work was a standout quality," McOwen-Banks says.
Creative, Channel 4
The judges were taken with Samra, who is creating "noisy work". To promote The Handmaid’s Tale, she brought the laws of Gilead to the UK and gave commuters a taste of how women are oppressed in the show. Her work won Promax gold for Best OOH Advertising and a silver for Best Press Advertising.
Creative, Grey London
Thomas became an award-winning creative while on placement and has continued winning awards, including a Cannes Lion, ever since. Unafraid to speak her mind, she knows what she wants when it comes to her career. Last year she was invited by Campaign to write an article as one of the UK’s eight best young creatives. Higgs says: "Emma is a tour de force, the perfect combination of talent and inspiration, a true creative who cares about the work."
Senior team lead, Google
Having worked in the creative tech and content field for 12 years, Turpin is now in her seventh year at Google Creative Lab. Here she heads teams working on some of the company’s most strategic, pioneering and complex technology projects. She is driven to create work that is socially impactful as well as technologically innovative. Turpin has led a range of award-winning projects, including environmental virtual-reality work with the Natural History Museum plus art and code installations at the Barbican linked to educational programmes for school children from low socio-economic backgrounds. "An impressive body of work," Robinson says.
Copywriter, FCB Inferno
Viswanathan has created standout work from an authentic point of view. With "I chose to teach" she worked with Archer’s Mark to make films with a social purpose, filming real lessons and capturing students taking pride in their work. In the first week of the campaign, registrations increased by 81%. With "Let’s protect our girls" for the Home Office, Viswanathan harnessed the power of photojournalist Emily Garthwaite and focused on parents who rejected FGM.
Creative director, Crabtree & Evelyn
For 13 years, Wildblood has shaped the creative vision of many leading brands and won pitches for Virgin Trains, Revlon and Primark. She believes the key to success is building strong client relationships and collaborative working environments, where creativity has the freedom to flourish. Now global creative director at Crabtree & Evelyn, she’s leading the rebrand of the heritage beauty company by building an agency-style studio in the London headquarters and overhauling stores, ecommerce, product, brand positioning and audience – fuelled by an unflinching love for craft and storytelling.
Ones to watch
Natasha Beecher, senior writer, creative director, Oglivy Roots
Lisa Berenson, creative lead, Phantom
Nina Beyers, creative, Uncommon Creative Studio (standout work: Habito)
Belle Briggs, freelance associative creative director
Dina Elrayyes, global director of video, Ascential
Mima Eskarous, art director, Hill & Knowlton
Sarah Fox and Jules Middleton, creatives, BBC Creative
Elsie Hoskin, designer, Proximity London
Tammy Johal, brand designer, Havas London
Charlotte Khushi and Lucy Eldridge, senior creatives, Wunderman
Julia Martens, freelance associate creative director
Georgie McCarthy, creative (outstanding social work)
Sophia McGovern, D&AD shift graduate, MRM McCann
Michela Nicchiotti, art director, Lauren Ellis and Poppy Donaldson, creatives, Publicis London
Jade Nodinot, graphic designer, DDB Remedy
Sweta Pathak, senior creative, Unlimited Group
Alexandra Sattlecker and Linda Weitgasser, creatives, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London
Loriley Sessions and Charlotte Prince, creatives, Leo Burnett
Alison Steven, freelance creative director
Rania Svoronou, design director, IBMiX
Jacqui J Sze, senior creative, AKQA
Angie Yuanmalai, associate creative director, Huge Inc (standout work: Dove)
Renee Vaughan Sutherland, creative director, Hub
Nova Dando, "Nail transphobia" with Charlie Craggs
Laura Randall, creative, GurlsTalk podcast
Mikaela Rice, creative, SheSays SheStandsOut
Rebecca Rowntree, creative director, founder "This Way Up"
Naomi Taylor, Next of Kin (plus D&AD New Blood black pencil winner), creative, Mr President
Ali Hanan is founder and chief executive of Creative Equals
Campaign is proud to partner RISE on 15 May to change the ratio of women in leadership roles. For tickets, visit creativeequals.org/events