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Michael Mish, President of AMP Agency, recently chatted with Adweek about the importance of DE&I and the value in creating purposeful work. " First came a DEI board of advisors headed by parent company Advantage Solutions, and then the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs) for women, working parents and others for members of the Black, Latinx, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities. The agency also developed a training program to tackle unconscious bias across all levels." (Source: Adweek) Read the news: https://www.adweek.com/agencies/what-will-it-take-for-agencies-to-retain-diverse-talent/
AMP Agency, a division of Advantage Solutions, has named Michael Mish president. Mish, who joined AMP Agency in 2012, most recently served as SVP, general manager and previously as SVP of business development. As president, Mish is responsible for agency operations, strategy and growth, including strategic acquisitions. Under Mish’s leadership, the agency has experienced consistent year-over-year growth on a national and now global scale. “AMP’s growth is in large part attributable to Michael’s focus on shifting to strategic relationships and evolving AMP’s capabilities to meet the changing needs of clients,” said AMP Agency Founder Gary Colen. “Michael has specifically focused on the demand for top-tier, growth-focused digital media services, experience design, dynamic creative, data science and advanced analytics.” Mish serves on Advantage's DE&I board, which is supporting a multiyear diversity, equity and inclusion strategy that includes the establishment of employee resource groups, training programs, talent benchmarks and policy recommendations. Working with other senior executive leaders, Mish is focused on developing a positive culture and recruiting diverse talent to the company. “Improving DE&I within the marketing and advertising industry is nothing new,” Mish said. “As a Hispanic leader from humble beginnings, I recognize the need to create opportunities within and outside of our agency. “I want to be part of the change in the industry. At AMP, our core values are Openness, Empathy and Growth. Our leadership team is focused on developing an inclusive culture and recruiting multicultural talent. Not only is it the right thing to do, but diversity of thought and experience will drive breakthrough work for our clients, increase innovation and accelerate our momentum.” Last year, AMP established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and developed a pro-bono program, setting a goal of dedicating up to 10% of annual billable hours to support organizations led or owned by Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ people or people impacted by disabilities. “We decided our role in solving inequalities is to focus our intellectual capital on growing businesses that support these communities,” Mish said. “When Michael joined AMP, he immediately drove value for the agency and our clients and has always stood out as an innovative and strategic leader,” Colen said. “The larger vision for the agency has consistently been at the forefront of his contributions. I’ve always looked to Michael for opportunities to lead and guide the agency, given his proven marketing genius and passion for growing our clients’ brands with breakthrough work and for growing our people. In his new role as president, I know he will combine these areas of focus to continue to elevate our agency and our people for our clients.” Mish has had an amazing journey here at AMP! View this video to learn more: Congratulations, Mish! READ THE NEWS: https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/amp-agency-elevates-michael-mish-to-president/173862/ https://www.lbbonline.com/news/amp-agency-names-michael-mish-as-president
This fall, AMP is kicking off its first ever DE&I challenge! We're playing bingo all month long and we invite you to join us. There’s gonna be bingo, there’s gonna be prizes, there’s gonna be education we can use to make our workplace and the world more equitable and inclusive. Get ready to celebrate diversity *and* simultaneously compete with your fellow AMPers for some awesome grand prizes. To play, screenshot the bingo card template in our Fall 2021 DE&I Challenge highlight on our Instagram page, and re-share it to your Instagram Story as you complete challenges. Tag us in pics of you completing challenges for a chance to be featured in our Highlight reel! For recommendations and resources, view our Instagram page and click the link in bio to view the resource list. LINKS: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amp_agency/ Resource list: https://linktr.ee/ampagency We encourage our industry peers to join us in taking on the challenge!
Last week I had the opportunity to attend Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum. It was inspiring to hear so many accomplished women share their knowledge and experiences with us. As a young female professional, early on in the grand scheme of my career, it was refreshing to hear about a topic nearly everyone is impacted by but few speak about: burnout. The session, poetically called The Betrayal of Burnout, was led by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist and author specializing in women’s mental health. Burnout is a word that feels all too familiar to many of us — especially in this past year and a half during the pandemic, where it’s been challenging to separate work life from home life when they are taking place in the same space. Dr. Lakshmin poignantly suggested the term ‘burnout’ itself exonerates a system that does not do enough to support mental health, working parents, or child care. According to Dr. Lakshmin, the most frequent response to an individual expressing burnout is “Are you going to therapy?”, or “Are you doing self-care?”. This, she claims, places the burden of responsibility onto the person, and not onto a system that is evidently flawed. Faux self-care practices like yoga, meditation and spa retreats will not solve the problems that come with burnout. Those are privileged solutions that many people do not have access to, and oftentimes are not long-term solutions. The only thing that worked for her was learning how to say no and setting proper boundaries. Below are a few important lessons that Dr. Lakshmin shared to help women set boundaries in their professional lives. The outcome? Increases in quality of work and client satisfaction are just a few of the benefits that stem from women in the workplace setting boundaries and avoiding burnout. No one is going to make the choices for you and your best interest — you must make those for yourself. As women, Dr. Lakshmin says, we tend to put ourselves last. She warns that getting into a “martyr mode” comes with a cost. In order to truly prioritize your mental health, you need to make space for yourself. Whether it’s setting your Slack status to “Away” to take that midday walk that gives you a mental reprieve, or declining to take on a new project that would strain your already tight bandwidth — these are the decisions we can make for our own mental health that help make us more focused while we are working and more easily unplug when we aren’t. Communicate your priorities to the people in your life. Dr. Lakshmin encourages women to decide what your values are in your current season of life. Different seasons bring different priorities. Some seasons, she suggests, are for prioritizing your family, and some are for your professional work. You can communicate those to the people in your life. For example, if it’s important to you to have dinner with your family, then let your colleagues and clients know that you’ll be offline at 6pm. Setting those expectations creates clear boundaries your team and clients can respect. Sharing these priorities also humanizes us and can encourage our team and clients to do the same, creating a more empathetic workplace for all. Feeling guilt does not mean you’re making the wrong choice. Dr. Lakshmin recognizes that sometimes when we set boundaries as women, we feel a sense of guilt for putting ourselves first. In a society that conditions women to be the caretakers, this is an all too common reaction. She instead offers to think of your guilt as a faulty check engine light: just because you feel guilty does not mean something is wrong or that you’re making the wrong choice. Reframe it as building up your muscle to tolerate self-care. Most importantly, Dr. Lakshmin reiterates, when you’re feeling burnt out, try to remind yourself this is a systemic issue. This is not something that we as women are creating for ourselves; instead, we are simply reacting to it. We must remember self-care is a verb, not a noun, and the real work is internal. We need to get our feelings out in a trusted space whether that’s with our partner, mentor, or friend. Holding those feelings inside will only work against us. Just like Dr. Lakshmin, when you take the risk to advocate for what you need and want in the workplace, you're empowering the women that are coming behind you as well as making yourself a better employee and partner to your clients.
AMP Attends the Ad Club Women’s Leadership Forum On the eve of AMP’s quarterly mental health office closure, a group of AMP’s female associates virtually gathered to attend The Women’s Leadership Forum (2021) hosted by the Ad Club. The tagline of this year’s event, Nevertheless, She Persisted, was a foreshadowing of the primary theme throughout each session: persistence. By extension, this stands out as a reflection of an AMP core value: growth. Fighting Invisibility Gender and ethnicity also served as contextual backdrops for the stories told within each session. Award-winning author Gish Jen discussed her experience of becoming a novelist as an Asian American woman and the outside responses this frequently evoked. Being questioned as to why she wasn’t writing stories set in China was a common occurrence for Jen, and she explained that experiences like these often leave Asian Americans feeling invisible. However, instead of playing the role of a “professional victim”, as Jen puts it, she chose to stand her ground. Her decided response was: “Do Asians write about these topics? They do now.” Making Intentional Choices This notion of choice recurred throughout several sessions, with speakers explaining that having intentional responses to negative situations has profoundly shaped their journeys. Former NWHL Player & Pro Scout Blake Bolden owns that her successes have always come from the choices that she’s made. Growing up as a Black female, she had to rely largely on herself to make these choices as the sport lacked other Black females whom she could look up to. Now, Bolden is able to be that role model for other young women. “When you decide to wake up an choose to be better every single day, you’re not just making in an impact on yourself, but you could also be making an impact on someone else,” she noted while retelling the story of meeting a young Black girl who’d been inspired by Holden to play hockey. It was then that Holden realized she wasn’t just playing for herself, she was also playing for the people that she inspires. “You always have an option to choose,” she says. Being Kind To Yourself That said, getting better every day doesn’t mean working around-the-clock and ignoring burnout. To visual artist Nancy Floyd, giving herself permission to reflect and reset has allowed her to rediscover her passion for artistic endeavors that she’s become disinterred in. “Take baby steps,” she advises. “You don’t want to work out? Drive to the gym, and if you still don’t want to work out, drive home.” While she certainly isn’t a procrastinator, self-forgiveness and kind inner talk live at the center of Floyd’s creative process. Staying The Course During another session led by Wendy Ong, U.S. President of TaP Music & TaP records, listeners learned about her unconventional journey from a small apartment in Singapore to leading record labels and discovering top talent in the U.S. After moving to the U.S. with her then-husband, Ong did everything she could to land a job in the music industry, including blindly knocking on doors at record companies in NYC. After finally breaking into the scene, Ong experienced several years of success before a particularly disheartening experience at a label that left her wanting to quit the industry and return to Singapore. With the encouragement of her parents, she decided to keep marching towards her dreams. Now, as the President of a major U.S. record label, paving the way for other young women in the industry has become one of her primary passions. Noting that she wouldn’t want others to face the same struggles, she goes out of her way to “dust off the path for others so they can start their journey a little easier”. Becoming Unstoppable Each of these women come from vastly different backgrounds. Unwaveringly though, throughout their stories we are met first with persistence and then with growth. We quickly learn that when determination is combined with intentional choices, self-forgiveness and the understanding that actions can lead to positive change for not just the person taking action but others who look up to them as well, we become unstoppable.
If you’re reading this, it probably means that you, or your brand, are interested in becoming a stronger ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Welcome! We’re happy you’re here. To our LGBTQIA+ readers, we hope this blog post will be a helpful resource for specific strategies and information that you can share with your brand, colleagues, employees, partners, or clients. At AMP Agency, we believe that people of all genders, sexual orientations, and romantic orientations deserve to feel safe, respected, loved, validated, and represented. Through this lens, we’ve curated a list of actionable ideas that your brand can incorporate into your workplace and year-round marketing efforts. 1. Establish an Atmosphere of Respect within Your Workplace Before your brand can be an LGBTQIA+ ally to the general public, it must be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ people behind the scenes. No matter how inclusive a campaign appears on the surface, it will feel inauthentic (and perhaps even disrespectful) if the brand that created it doesn’t treat its own employees equally and with respect. In addition to the following sections of this blog post, which include tips for brands to use internally and externally, here are a few more tactics you can use to make inclusivity a key component of your company culture: Hire LGBTQIA+ employees and work with LGBTQIA+ influencers, partners and clients year round. Did you know there are professional recruiting events specific to this community? There are also employment programs for community subgroups, like the SF LGBT Center’s Transgender Employment Program. Create employee resource groups to foster a sense of community among workers. For example, our parent company Advantage Solutions created the group PRISM to nurture personal and professional growth among our LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies. 2. Learn the Language and Use It Thoughtfully Like other cultural groups, the LGBTQIA+ community has its own language, which includes slang, acronyms, personal identifiers, and more. Learning appropriate terms and using them considerately in your workplace and marketing efforts can build authenticity, loyalty and respect. However, please keep in mind that your brand’s historic and internal use of the language will impact how the public receives your current, public usage of it. For example, if you use the term “yasss” on a branded Pride shirt — a phrase that originated in 1980s ball culture among LGBTQIA+ people of color — and your brand has never previously spoken or acted in support of LGBTQIA+ individuals and/or people of color, that would not be a respectful or authentic use of the language. And more importantly, this surface-level celebration could come across as exploitative. When it comes to branded support, walking the walk must come before talking the talk. So, what does it look like when a brand thoughtfully uses language to support the community? Check out the inclusive work that Sephora has created in recent years, like their “Identify as We” campaign. Not only does it spotlight LGBTQIA+ people, their lives, and their pronouns, but it was also created by and for the community. Allure reported in 2019: "Both in front of and behind the camera, the campaign is populated with exclusively members of the LGBTQA+, transgender and gender-fluid community. Activists and influencers like Fatima Jamal and Hunter Schafer appear, putting on makeup, showing off beautiful hairstyles, or just plain old making out." It’s a great campaign on its own, but it’s even more powerful if you take into account Sephora’s continual allyship efforts. For example, they have beauty classes designed specifically for the transgender comunity. Authentically using language is important, but it’s most effective as part of a larger allyship initiative. With that in mind, here are some great resources for learning basic LGBTQIA+ terminology: The Trevor Project’s glossary of key terms The Safe Zone Project’s glossary of LGBTQ+ vocabulary “LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know” from USA Today GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Before we dive into the next section, we want to call out a few additional tips for thoughtfully using LGBTQIA+ language. First, language is fluid. The words we use are constantly changing in connotation, usage, and relevancy. For example, the term “queer” has historically been used as a slur, but many in the community have since reclaimed it. Still, others find the word offensive. Check out this article from them, a next-generation community platform, for a nuanced look at the term. Second, every member of the LGBTQIA+ community is an individual, and thus has their own unique cultural identifiers, preferences, and opinions. Think about which other cultural groups someone might identify with. This intersectionality may impact the language they use, like how the term “Two-Spirit” is used as a gender/sexuality/role identifier among some Indigenous North American communities. 3. Make Sharing Pronouns as Easy and Comfortable as Possible Across Your Brand Experience Pronouns can dramatically impact how an LGBTQIA+ person feels about themselves and others. Schuyler Bailar, the first trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete and owner of the popular Instagram account @pinkmantaray, explains the feeling of being misgendered in a 2020 blog post: When [you] call me the pronouns & name I no longer identify with, it says: You don’t exist. It says: I don’t see you and I value my view of you more than I value your comfort and safety. Misgendering me hurts my feelings a great deal. I know I might look a different way now than I did but I am still me. And I have always been me. And [you] using the name and pronouns that I use now – always, even with old pictures – is a way to validate that. To validate me. To say you see me. Click the links below for resources you can use to better understand pronouns and how to apply them in daily life: LGBT Life Center’s “Understanding pronouns” guide “Pronouns 101: Why They Matter and What To Do (and Not Do) If You Misgender Someone” from Medium “Why You Should Put Your Pronouns in Your Bio” by Schuyler Bailar Once you’re more familiar with pronouns, start incorporating them into your company culture and brand strategy. How? Share your pronouns when introducing yourself to new clients, partners, or members of your workplace. Whether or not you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this can create a safe space for people to share their pronouns, if desired. Add your pronouns to your social media bios, email signature, Zoom title — or anywhere else that might be relevant — as a sign to others that you support the LGBTQIA+ community. When your brand partners with an openly LGBTQIA+ individual, make sure you know their pronouns and how they identify before you post anything that specifically references their pronouns, sexuality, or gender. Be especially cautious when working with transgender and non-binary partners to make sure you don’t misgender or deadname anyone. (Deadnaming is when you refer to a transgender or non-binary person by their birth name or other former name. It’s often harmful and can be traumatic.) If your brand is creating a contact form or hosting a survey, consider adding a section for people to provide their pronouns. If you ask for someone’s gender, provide a variety of options to choose from, as opposed to the historically binary choices of “male” and “female.” Many governmental and medical forms still use this binary structure, which excludes many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 4. Be Mindful of News, Cultural Events, and Legislation That Might Impact Your LGBTQIA+ Audience Since American marketing and advertising began, the LGBTQIA+ community has had to deal with exclusion, harassment and discrimination — both inside of and outside of the industry. That’s still true today. When we create campaigns targeting or spotlighting this demographic, we should make sure we consider the personal, societal, cultural, and political issues our audience may be dealing with at the time they encounter our marketing. This is a tactful act of strategy as much as it is an act of allyship and empathy, because this insight makes your brand appear more in touch, aware, and authentic. At AMP, we loved working with Eastern Bank to bring their “Join Us For Good Good Votes” campaign to life. When transgender rights were being debated on a Massachusetts ballot in 2016 and 2018, Eastern Bank provided support to the transgender community through lobbying and rallying support, employee engagement, philanthropic assistance, and community engagement. This wasn’t just a one-time act of allyship, it’s consistent work. And we’re so proud we get to be a part of it. While Pride Month is an important time for the LGBTQIA+ community, allyship moments can arise at any time of year. Stay in the know, and act when something resonates strongly with your brand’s values and capabilities. 5. Resist “Rainbow Capitalism” and “Rainbow-Washing” When Designing Your Campaigns Custom Pride collections can be fabulous. Who doesn’t love a rainbow hoodie or “Y’all means all” bumper sticker? But they don’t often help a brand stand out from its competitors, especially not in June. And more significantly, these merchandise-based initiatives can occasionally worsen a brand’s reputation among the LGBTQ+ community, if they’re seen as rainbow capitalism or rainbow-washing. A recent CNN article defined rainbow capitalism as “the idea that some companies use LGBTQ allyship for their own gain.” In that same article, digital communication expert Chris Stedman is quoted as saying the following about Pride merch: "It feels like a violation in some ways because these companies are taking our language, our memes and our norms and using them for their own gain without fully understanding them or investing in the community. This language and imagery emerged in spaces that have been a refuge for people who haven't been safe and welcome in other communities. And I think that's why people are so bothered by it." Similarly, rainbow-washing “allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship,” according to Social Media Coordinator Justice Namaste in this 2018 WIRED article. If your brand is exclusively supporting the LGBTQIA+ community through branded Pride merch, you might want to rethink your strategy. Here are some starter questions to get you headed in the right direction: What has my brand previously done to support the LGBTQIA+ community? How were those efforts received? Do I feel like my brand is genuinely helping with this campaign, or does it feel like we’re checking a box? How can my brand’s unique product or service improve the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community specifically? Is my company inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community in the work environment it creates, hiring tactics it uses, and resources it provides? Are there any openly LGBTQIA+ individuals on the client team, creative team, strategy team, etc. for this project? If not, might this be an issue? Does this campaign feel authentic? Authenticity is especially important here — partly because consumers in 2021 crave authenticity, and partly because this value plays a huge role in the LGBTQIA+ community. Embracing one’s LGBTQIA+ identity means letting your real self show up in a world that doesn’t always get you or respect you. That’s incredibly authentic. This year, Getty Images partnered with the non-profit GLAAD to improve LGBTQIA+ representation in advertising. We love this campaign because it tackles a relevant issue (increasing visibility of an underrepresented group), it’s authentic (campaign links directly to the Getty Images brand), and it’s creative. Another example of authentic marketing is Verizon’s moving “Love Calls Back” campaign. In both of these campaigns, the brands have innovatively used their products and services to make the world a better place for LGBTQIA+ individuals. 6. Keep Accessibility in Mind When Creating or Sharing Content According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a disability. And PRNewswire reported in 2018 that “among lesbian, gay and, bisexual adults, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women also identify as having a disability.” Creating accessible content is essential to allyship because many members of the LGBTQIA+ community (and their allies) have a disability. And if you want to have the most inclusive, intersectional and visible content possible, you should consider accessibility. A few starter ideas for making your brand content more accessible: Add alt text to your brand’s Instagram captions. You can either select automatically generated alt text, or customize it to add your brand’s personal flair. Use Instagram’s new automatic caption feature for Instagram Story. Learn how to improve your brand’s digital accessibility with the A11Y Project. Follow ADA-approved design guidelines. Final Thoughts Whether you’ve been an LGBTQIA+ ally for decades or are just getting started, we’re excited you’re putting the work in to become an ally year round. Remember that you and your brand aren’t always going to get it right, and that’s OK. All allies make mistakes, whether they’re individuals or Fortune 500 companies. It’s because we’re human. Making mistakes is a part of our growth process. What matters is that you hold your brand accountable in an authentic way and work to do better going forward. For example, if you accidentally misgender someone in a client meeting, apologize, correct yourself, then move on. Allyship matters all 12 months of the year, not just during Pride. How your brand shows up will be unique and ever-evolving, but it matters that you are showing up. Thank you.
This Women’s History Month, AMP explored what women today want from brands, advertisers, and marketers. Since there are approximately 3.9 billion women in the world — each with their own unique personalities, backgrounds, and desires — we’ve narrowed the focus of this article to three desires that stood out to us during our research. We’ve also included insights from women we interviewed who have worked in the advertising and marketing industry. (Their names have been removed for privacy.) We don’t claim to speak on behalf of all women, but instead aim to highlight some of the desires and expectations for brands & the industry that many women have expressed in recent years. Women Want More Diverse and Intersectional Representation Over the past decade, there have been some incredible pushes towards more diverse representation of women in advertising — from The National Lottery’s uplifting & inclusive “This Girl Can” campaign to this amazing photo of Black transqueer lesbian model Jari Jones popping open a bottle of champagne in front of her larger-than-life Calvin Klein ad. Most of the women we spoke to in the industry mentioned that they’ve seen more diverse representation in recent years: more interracial couples, more body sizes in the fashion world, more stay-at-home dads, and fewer blatantly sexist ads. Still, only 29% of American women believe they are accurately represented in advertising, according to a recent study by data intelligence company Morning Consult. (The same study found that 44% of American men believe women are accurately represented.) As advertisers and marketers, a crucial step in developing a strategy plan is studying our consumers and learning about their wants, needs, and habits. So why does the industry continue to miss the mark with female representation? Perhaps it has something to do with the word “and.” Because a consumer is never just a woman. Maybe she’s a woman and bisexual and Latinx and a stepmom and really into Maseratis and perfume. When we look at female representation, we must consider intersectionality and what other identities might matter to female consumers. Let’s say our consumer identifies as a lesbian. According to a 2019 survey of 2,000 adults in the UK by GAY TIMES and Karmarama, 72% of LGBTQ respondents think the way they’re represented in advertising is tokenistic. Let’s say she has a disability. The Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (CSPD) reported in 2019 that only 3% of characters on North American television have disabilities and of these, 95% are played by able-bodied actors. (This statistic inspired their moving “Visibility for Disability” campaign.) Let’s say she’s a mom. A 2019 report from the brand Motherly with almost 6,500 survey respondents found that 85% of millennial moms don’t feel like society does a good job of understanding and supporting them. Let’s say she’s a woman of color. A 2019 study on the representation of Black women and girls in Hollywood found that Black females and other females of color are more likely to be portrayed partially/fully nude than white females — in films and on TV. The same study found that white female TV characters are more likely to have a job (89.6%) compared to Black female characters (70.5%) and other female characters of color (58.8%). (This study was conducted by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and focused on family films and TV.) How might it feel to see characters who look like her repeatedly oversexualized and underemployed? Even if a woman feels her “womanness” — or whatever you want to call it — is well-represented, maybe she doesn’t feel like her other identities are well-represented. Maybe the commercials, print ads, and radio spots she encounters are not adding up to how she sees herself as a whole woman person. Women Don’t Want to Be Superheroes (At Least Not All the Time) The brilliant author Carmen Maria Machado wrote, “We deserve to have our wrongdoing represented as much as our heroism, because when we refuse wrongdoing as a possibility for a group of people, we refuse their humanity.” Our messy complexities are part of what make us human. And it turns out, a lot of women want to see more of this messiness, and less of the fully put together superwoman archetype we’ve been served again and again in past decades. One ad that leans into this attitude superbly is Frida Mom’s “Stream of Lactation” commercial, which highlights the highs and lows of breastfeeding with an authentic, stream-of-conscious voiceover. One woman in the industry we interviewed said: I LOVE the new Frida commercial about breastfeeding. While watching the commercial, I felt seen and understood. I saw myself and thought "Wow, that's exactly what I do" or "Yes, that happened to me." Women want to see other women that they identify with, and that's the best (and most ethical) way to sell your product. For years, women were served razor ads featuring models with shaved skin and pad ads featuring that notorious blue liquid. Marketers made shaving and menstruation seem like a walk in the park. But then came “Blood Normal” and Billie. “Blood Normal” by hygiene company Libresse broke ground as the first campaign to show actual period blood. Billie similarly changed the game by creating the first razor campaign for women featuring actual body hair. And people loved it. “Blood Normal” won the coveted Glass Lion for Change Grand Prix at Cannes and Billie has grown to be a successful brand with 278k followers on Instagram. By portraying women in nontraditional but relatable ways, brands like Libresse and Billie have managed to both diversify female representation and gain a loyal following of customers. Women Want Brands to Play a Role In the Conversation on Social Issues and Gender In the era of social media, brand accountability, and virtual boycotts, we are seeing more women putting pressure on brands to speak up on social issues. When the Black Lives Matter protests surged in spring 2020, numerous brands spoke out on the topic of racial justice. But for many internet users, these efforts — many of which took the form of social media posts — didn’t go far enough. Examples of real comments posted on one popular fashion brand’s 2020 posts: “If you just posted a square, you’re performative!” “What steps have you implemented to date?” “So this was a lie.” “I’m so sad to hear all this and will no longer support [brand name]. I’ve been a diehard fan for so long. I will never stand for a brand that would allow, at any capacity, racial profiling.” This brand has over 4 million followers on Instagram. And it’s just one of many brands we saw called out in 2020 for their social media responses to current events. We’re also hearing women say they want brands to contribute more directly to the conversation on gender. A women who works in the industry told us: I want to see more men wondering what detergent to use and more women thinking about what kind of cool car to drive. In my own relationship, my husband is very concerned about dishwasher liquid (really) and I want to drive a slick fast car on an open road. Life is changing, roles are changing, and all I'm asking is to see that reflected. Big brands especially have so much power to normalize and destigmatize. Another important step in joining this conversation is amplifying female voices at brands and agencies. It’s not just about hiring more women, but also promoting them to management and leadership positions. When The 3% Movement was founded in 2012, only 3% of all US Creative Directors were women. The organization has since helped push that number to 29% today — an amazing increase, but still not close to 50%. Promoting women to leadership positions adds diverse perspectives to our teams and brings more female insights into how women want to be represented. How To Give Women What They Want There are so many ways organizations can tailor their branding, advertising, and marketing efforts to better address the desires and expectations of women. They can engage with the conversation on social issues and gender, complexify female roles in their campaigns, and offer more diverse and intersectional representations of women across the board. They can also enrich their internal teams by hiring women, and promoting them to leadership roles. The goal isn’t for every brand to try and address all the desires of every woman on the planet, but to make efforts day by day where you can. For example, if parents make up a large percentage of your target audience, you might consider how to bring intersectional, complex representations of moms to your ads. Think of where it makes sense to engage authentically with your customers. Insights from Women Who Work in the Industry To get a better idea of how the marketing and advertising industry is currently addressing female wants and expectations from the inside, we interviewed some of the women we know. The responses below come from people who have worked as interns, freelancers, and full-timers — at agencies and in-house — with experience ranging from 3-10+ years in the industry. Q: What do you want from the ads and marketing tactics you see in the world? A: “I would like to see more representation throughout ad campaigns. It would be nice to see people who look like me and the people around me, and not just the same famous people.” “I've seen companies attempt to be more socially aware (or "woke," if you will) but sometimes it backfires. I want advertisers to stop trying so hard in their marketing tactics or do a better job of reading the room.” “I always respond to authenticity, self-awareness and especially humor — the Ok Cupid "DTF” campaign is a great example. As a consumer, I do not respond well to feeling shamed or condescended to.” “I want to see all types of women doing all types of things. I also would love for brands to call out censorship, double-standards, or gender roadblocks in their ads directly.” Q: What are your expectations for the campaigns you yourself put out in the world? A: “To cast women in unexpected roles. Conversely, to not only show moms as caretakers and nurturers.” “I do my best to make people think about the thing we're advertising in a new way, whether that means showing them a way our product can add something new and positive to their lives, or just causing them to stop and laugh at an interesting image or headline. I also feel a pretty heavy responsibility not to add to any of the toxic stereotypes or standards that we're all — but especially women — constantly bombarded with.” “What an incredible responsibility we play as women in the biz. It's frustrating to see the same narrative about the same woman over and over. And it's a true challenge to bend that narrative into one that's more truthful of our experiences. But it's a fight worth fighting, and I think having women in leadership roles in advertising is greatly improving this issue.” Q: How are women portrayed in advertising? Do you predict this changing in the upcoming year? A: “Over the past ten or twenty years, we've gone from a total proliferation of the same cookie-cutter image to the slow, incremental appearance of more diverse, ‘real’ images of women. As we've seen more and more brands jump on that bandwagon, I can't help but feel a little cynical. Pop feminism and ‘girl power’ have become just another sales tool... it's still so much about making women feel like they need things to be fully realized. It's just gone from, ‘Buy this product and you'll be beautiful’ to, ‘Buy this product and you'll be empowered.’” “My wife and I have both been hyper-aware of the significant increase of interracial couples featured in ads, which is very exciting. For 2021, I'd love to see more of this, and a lot more queer women of all races, ages, body shapes, and ethnicities. I have seen lesbian couples here and there, but I haven't seen many lesbian parents.” “I think there's still an absence of women who are 40+ in the advertising I see. Middle age isn't what it used to be and it would be great to see the modern, mature woman portrayed more in advertising that is not related to medications.” “One thing I hope would change is the Instagram fad of everyone looking like a Kardashian. Influencers are such a huge part of advertising, and we know how harmful those unrealistic depictions of beauty can be.” “For the most part women have been either hyper-sexualized or seen as arm-candy to sell a product. There are more conversations and actions happening in recent years to represent women in less hyper-sexualized roles. On the other hand, I do not have a problem with women being portrayed sexually. Especially in fashion and art. I think there has to be care in not being over-sexualized, where the woman then becomes an object of desire.” Q: Do you feel satisfied with how you see women represented in advertising today? A: “Satisfied would sound like there is not room for improvement. I think it’s much better than it was 10 years ago and hope it keeps evolving.” “One thing that bothers me about the way Black women are represented in advertising today is that there is still a bias toward light-skinned Black women or women who look mixed race. Obviously this is an old issue, but it still persists and needs to change.” “I think so… It is encouraging to see women of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and identities in ads these days… depicted as funny, strong, silly, beautiful, smart, and all of the ways you can be depicted. However, I do think we still need to come up with more ways to flip the script.” “I don’t know if I’m satisfied with how women are represented in advertising yet. I think having more women in advertising and higher positions would change the outcome of some campaigns. There can’t be representation properly done without real women’s voices.” Q: How does it feel to be a woman working in this industry? A: “I’ve been fortunate to work in an environment where I haven’t felt treated differently for being a woman.” “A lot of days I don't think about it too much, but it probably informs everything I do.” “There’s always room for improvement. There's no better time to be a woman in history than today, and hopefully thirty years down the line, a woman will say the same thing. We should always be striving for better.”
Each spring, people all over the world celebrate Holi. Known as “the festival of colors,” this ancient Hindu festival signifies the triumph of good over evil. A popular Holi tradition is the throwing of gulal (colorful powder) at friends, family, and even strangers. We sent our AMPers gulal so we could share the joy of Holi together — even while we’re far apart. Check out the video! Happy Holi, everyone!
Today, March 8th, marks the annual International Women’s Day where we globally celebrate the achievements and successes of women everywhere. In recognition of today and Women’s History Month, we’ve asked five women from our agency to join us for Voices AMPlified, an ongoing panel series designed to spark discussion and highlight notable moments throughout the year. This month, our panel is centered around what it means to be women in the advertising and marketing industry. To kick things off, we’ve asked them to answer the question: “What would you tell your younger self?” Check out what they had to say: Katelyn Crowley, VP of Talent & Strategic Operations “There are a lot of great things about being an adult — like setting our own bedtime. But perhaps most importantly, with age comes the wisdom and perspective we only wish we had when we were younger. If I could give my younger-self advice, I would say: Invest in finding and building partnerships with people who cheer you on and cheer you up. I’m fortunate enough to have a close-circle of incredible women who always have my back and push me to be better. I also married a man who treats me as an equal partner. I will never regret stopping the hustle to tune in, spend time and connect with these people. Also, remember to wear sunscreen!” Rosetta Lane, SR. Producer “I would tell my younger self that your job does not define who you are, and that more often than not, people remember what you do less than how you do it. The answer is not always to hustle harder, but to instead cherish the present, find daily ways to grow in and out work, and save room for yourself to rest. Burnout is real, don’t wait until someone gives you a break (you’ll be waiting a long time!), take what you need to stay balanced. Above all else, have patience, you can’t rush the wisdom that comes with experience.” Kiki Takakura-Merquise, VP, Digital Transformation “Notes to a younger self - Loneliness is temporal and it will always be back; get comfortable with silence and learn to be your own friend. - It is normal to be angry but do not let it blind you; use it to focus and create clarity to find a better path. - Never eat bananas before checking on a beehive; seriously, don’t do it.” Surina Sud, Consumer Research Associate Strategist “If I could give advice to my younger self today, I would tell her not be afraid of anything. I’d tell her to speak up, take risks, and believe in herself because she can do anything. I’d remind her to do what makes her laugh, do what she loves, to not fear of what people think – and to be proud of who she is.” Samantha Thu, Media Director “Now that I’ve finally figured out what I want and what makes me happy, I would tell my younger self to not worry about what others are doing and focus on my own path, whether that was personal, professional or just in general. I used to put so much undue stress on myself to chase the next promotion, compare my career path with others, and to move onto the next thing. I wish I had stopped to take a breath and just enjoy the moment, soak it in and not always be looking one step ahead. The true achievement was personal growth and development into the confident and experienced individual I am today, commanding all of my decisions without hesitation, self-doubt and question. When I finally slowed down a few years ago and made this realization, my quality of life - mentally, emotionally and physically - was far greater than I could have imagined and any continued growth has really presented itself in a more natural progression, at times when I’m truly ready for it.” To learn more about International Women’s Day, check out this website.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of the contributions, history and culture of Hispanic & Latinx communities in the United States. During the 2020 celebration, AMP Agency held its first Voices AMPlified panel, which consisted of 4 hispanic and Latinx AMP employees discussing their personal experiences growing up and how their career led them to the marketing and advertising world. Check out some of the highlights from the AMPlified Voices panel in this video.