When Christina Knight, one of the most famous creative directors in Sweden, noticed that every book she has ever read on advertising thus far has been written by a man and heavily featured work by men – she came up with a plan. She decided to have a look at the other side of the coin, visit the dark side of the moon… whatever you want to call it: her idea of HERstory about women in advertisMENt was born.
Creative director Christina Knight at INGO (part of the Ogilvy & Grey Networks), Stockholm said: ‘when I lecture I always get questions on what it is like to be a woman in advertising and how I have been able to stay on for so long. Young women who I mentor ask me where they can find the experiences and stories of advertising women. It is obvious that there is a lack of visible, inspiring women role models. The time was quite simply right for this book.’
Advertising, men, women, unbelievable careers, mini skirts, life paths, anecdotes, rise and fall, addictive behaviour, envy, maternity protection… these are all topics that pop into our heads. A book that’s right up our street!
Jessica Bjurström, CEO and Gustav Martner, chairman at Komm, the Swedish Association of Communication Agencies, take a more subtle approach to the book: ‘one of the things we definitely need to do is show alternatives, other ways. Broaden the perspectives and the opportunities for women and men alike. Show the good examples. The inspiring experiences, the norm-breakers. This is why we were so happy when Christina knocked on our door one day and told us about her book. We wanted to share her story – and the stories of Shelly, Stefanie, Kat, Nunu, Susan, Nina, Cilla, Rakhshin, Mary, Anna, Margaret, Catrin and Jean. Theirs are important stories that can help inspire and shape the future, as well as inspire others to tell their story too. Herstory.’
So, stories about great women in advertising. We think that’s brilliant, even without the dark sexual aspect of power. And while we flicked through for the first time we wondered why nobody has done this before? And because we are always consistent, we asked the author to share her experiences in an interview for our GoSee readers. And maybe this will entice you to buy her excellent book. Here’s what Christina said:
When did you start working on HERstory?
"I had the idea for my book "Mad Women - A Herstory of Advertising" in the summer of 2010, when I realized I had spent 25 wonderful years in the ad industry without reading one single book by an ad woman - only plenty of books by ad men, like David Ogilvy for example. I also realized what how few inspiring female role models had been presented to me during my career, at agencies and through media; I have been surrounded by professional men, but very few women, especially at the beginning of my career. As I am a true believer of role modes - "If you can't see it, you can't be it", I decided to write this book as a gift to the younger generation of women entering the industry, to empower and inspire them; to show them that it is possible, even if you are not the current norm.
So a 'women only' publication?
Of course, I also hope that men will read it and that conversations will start at agencies and among clients with the aim of creating an industry in better balance, an industry which can better represent and be relevant to our society today, which is much more multi-faceted in gender and ethnic/cultural background.
Did you meet all the ladies in person?
Yes, and it was amazing to meet all of these 13 women all over the world; women of different ages and from various cultural backgrounds - They all had the same in common - they wanted to share their stories; they have had challenges and are willing to share great advice and experiences and they all wish for improvements in the industry where better balance will bring a better workplace as well as better more relevant advertising. Naturally, there is also a longing for the same opportunities and equal pay - I find it embarrassing that that is not the case in 2013!
Any favorite meeting?
The most amazing meeting of all was that with Mary Wells Lawrence who is now 83, and who ran the agency Wells Rich Greene for many years, producing pioneering advertising for Braniff airlines, Alka-Seltzer and the "I love NY"-campaign to mention but a few. She is an amazing woman, still full of energy and plans despite the fact that she is 83. I think you can tell from my chapter about her, that she made an enormous impression on me and that I just wish I had met her 20 years ago!! As a matter of fact, Mary has written a book herself "A Big Life in Advertising" which I truly recommend.
Any german highlights?
In Germany, I talked to Stefanie Wurst at Scholz & Friends, who had so much energy and confidence to share; it was refreshing and inspiring to hear her talk!
Did you 'chase' any ladies this year in Cannes?
Yes, I went to Cannes this year too and like every year we get to play "hunt the woman" to find the few female jury members! This year I think 2 out of 14 jury leaders were women, including the fantastic Shelly Lazarus, who I also interviewed in my book. She is amazing.
Any advice for the organizers behind the Cannes Lions and other award shows etc. ?
I think the organizers and each country really have to try a lot harder to get a greater balance in each and every jury - the women need to be present and visible as inspiring role moles for the generation to come, as well as important contributors in the jury session to get a balanced discussion with more perspectives. That goes for diversity too - we need people from all cultures and backgrounds for our industry to be more nuanced and relevant. In Sweden for example 80% of te CEO's at Swedish agencies are men. I will talk about this and other things at The 3% Conference in San Francisco in October.
The following women share their stories in this unique book: Christina Knight, Sweden - Shelly Lazarus, US - Stefanie Wurst, Germany - Kat Gordon, the US - Nunu Ntsingila, South Africa - Susan Hoffman, US - Nina Åkestam, Sweden - Cilla Snowball, the UK - Rahkshin Patel, India - Mary Wells Lawrence, US - Anna Qvennerstedt, Sweden - Margaret Key, South Korea - Catrin Vagnemark, Sweden - Jean Grow, US
About - CHRISTINA KNIGHT is one of Sweden’s most renowned creative directors. She is creative director at INGO – Ogilvy & Grey in Stockholm. She also lectures at Berghs School of Communication, Forsbergs Skola and The University of Stockholm. Christina is often in the juries of Award shows such as Cannes Lions, Guldägget,
Guldlådan and Eurobest.
Mad Women - A Herstory of Advertising
AUTHOR: Christina Knight
DESIGN: Helena Thorsell
EDITOR: Marie Tomicic
PAGES: approx. 185
RELEASE DATE: 8 March 2013
PUBLISHER: OLIKA Publishing House Ltd.
Mad Women - A Herstory of Advertising is published in collaboration with The Swedish Association of Communication Agencies (Komm!)