Voices

“I don’t think I’ve ever related to a woman in advertising.”

Journalist, Author and Broadcaster Caitlin Moran and Havas Chief Creative Officer Vicki Maguire on the creative firepower of midlife women.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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“I don’t think I’ve ever related to a woman in advertising.” Caitlin Moran, Journalist, Author and Broadcaster is sharing her view that ‘advertising seems to be lagging behind’ when it comes to representing and connecting with women.

In a wide-ranging and honest conversation with Havas London’s Chief Creative Officer Vicki Maguire at Creative Equals RISE conference, the duo discussed the disconnect between the power of older women and their portrayal and role (or lack thereof) in the media and creative industries. 

Moran explained: “When things need to change it's women who change things. Because of social media, we know the faces of women who have changed things.” She pointed out the cultural disconnect between the creative firepower of shows such as Fleabag and Killing Eve, with multifaceted female leads, while Maguire questioned why women in advertising are still all about perfection.

As soon as I turned 50, advertisers suddenly stopped telling me I should buy Chanel and started telling me I smelled of wee

Vicki Maguire, Chief Creative Officer, Havas London

The rise of the midfluencer

The disconnect between the commercial clout of women over 50 and their depiction and presence in creative departments also topped the agenda. “As soon as I turned 50, advertisers suddenly stopped telling me I should buy Chanel and started telling me I smelled of wee,” quipped Maguire. 

The duo discussed the way in which middle-aged women are influenced not by a mainstream media narrative which routinely ignores them, but by other women. Yet the power of this ‘midfluencer’ peer group is largely overlooked by the brands seeking to connect with them.

Moran advised advertisers to “represent women in their friendship groups rather than alone.” Noting that while it was a ‘low bar’ it was still a place to start. Sharing her desire to reclaim the word ‘hag’.

Class remains a taboo in advertising 

“Where are the women like us in the industry?” questioned Maguire. Noting that as two working class women they both inhabit an industry dominated by middle class white men. Moran shared that the fact remains for working class talent they often ‘would not know how to get in the door’. Maguire shared that there still hasn’t been a ‘movement’ to tackle the issue of class and the lack of socioeconomic diversity in the creative industries. 

On making space for the next generation Moran warned against using a single woman as a proof point or an outlier and then not actually giving them the support, space or peer group necessary to thrive.

“If you are a woman or a minority and you feel like this industry is not for you, that's my failure, not yours,” added Maguire. Urging the audience to ‘just move agency’ if they are not being heard, she noted that it was her job as a leader to make the space to bring talent together and create the conditions in which they can thrive. “There should be room enough for everybody,” she added. 

Image credit @ Bronac McNeill photography

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