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The Gerety 2023 Global Jury Insights highlight the importance of the female lens and consider how to create work that has universal impact
This summer has seen Barbie hit $1 billion at the box office, the Women’s World Cup dominating both screens and column inches and announcements of Taylor Swift’s Era’s tour inject an economic boost to cities across the globe. The cultural currency of these moments cannot be underestimated, underlining that women’s voices and women’s stories can have both impact and commercial success.
For both business and society, it is growing impossible to ignore the importance of the female lens and the cultural firepower of women. Yet still, women are leaving the advertising industry each and every day because of outdated working structures breaking their creative spirit.
The Gerety Awards have long championed the power of the female lens. The awards are unique because they redefine the standard to which advertising is held. Named after Frances Gerety, the copywriter who coined the slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ the awards mark the first time that juries have been brought together to select the best in advertising, all advertising, not just advertising made for women, through the female lens.
At the Gerety 2023 Global Jury Insights panel, Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief sat down with Gerety Jury members, Jo Wallace, Global Executive Creative Director at MediaMonks, Judite Mota, Chief Creative Officer and Managing Director at VMLY&R, Portugal, Ghada Wali, Creative and Co-Founder at Wali's Studio, Egypt and Zubeida Goolam, Founder and Creative Managing Partner at Valiant Agency. The panel analyzed the trends behind the best global creative work of the year, with a focus on how these award-winning brands are shaping culture.
In an era defined by uncertainty, the industry has borne the brunt of much criticism with a growing narrative that work is getting worse. Yet the Gerety Jury saw no shortage of creativity in this year's most impactful, boundary-pushing work.
“Clients might have been more risk averse, budgets are smaller, teams are smaller and it’s harder to be creative when you aren't relaxed - when the world is in meltdown” caveats Wallace, “But for me creativity remains strong. There's still a whole lot of creativity out there, we sometimes don't appreciate the new work until we have a chance to live with it for a while.”
There's still a whole lot of creativity out there, we sometimes don't appreciate the new work until we have a chance to live with it for a while.Jo Wallace, Global Executive Creative Director at MediaMonks
The Gerety judging process gives the jury the opportunity to be immersed in creativity and acts as a reminder that taking the time to look at the great work that surrounds us also acts as a source of inspiration.
“For me, it's about embracing the inspiration and the knowledge that comes with seeing what's possible to break the mould in your head and drive different thinking,” explains Goolam. “If you’re not exposed to things that happen around you, you can’t create.”
Overwhelmingly the most impactful work for this year’s jury was that based on insight and rooted within culture. Where purpose was once treated as somewhat of a trend, Kemp asks if this is evolving to become a movement rather than a moment.
If you’re not exposed to things that happen around you, you can’t create.Zubeida Goolam, Founder and Creative Managing Partner at Valiant Agency
Connecting with culture means that campaigns with purpose are able to make a more genuine impact. “Lots of campaigns have integrated culture amazingly,” says Wali, pointing to the example of Dirty Laundry, a campaign rooted in insight around the fear of speaking out about rape for women in Lebanon. The campaign is a compelling example of how insight and theatrical storytelling can connect with and impact specific communities.
“We aren’t just selling stuff, we are making people feel a certain way,” added Goolam. “Brands play a role in changing people's lives and if brands actively participate in changing perspectives we are on a good track.”
Beyond purpose, impact can also be made by connecting with culture through humour and joy, a theme re-emerging in the work at this year’s awards. “The simplicity of great insight plus craft has had a comeback,” says Mota, “Humour has been missing for a while, love to see that coming back.”
The judges remarked on the cathartic experience of being immersed in work from around the world and connecting on a global scale. Showing the power of human insight to transcend cultural differences, the most successful campaigns were able to extend beyond the communities they were originally intended for and resonate at scale.
“When you see a great piece of work it challenges your own thinking” explains Wali, “I think it proves that great work wherever it comes from is universal, if it moves you, evokes emotion, it’s a universal language.”
Yet the importance of perspective and the power of the female lens was championed by Mota. “We always judge work and see work from your own perspective, regardless of gender, we all have our own lens,” she says. Considering how women may connect with work on a more emotive level, she argues that the female lens can sometimes be more reflective of that of the audience. Adding that beyond that initial emotive response, “great work is great work.”
When you see a great piece of work it challenges your own thinking. I think it proves that great work wherever it comes from is universal, if it moves you, evokes emotion, it’s a universal language.Ghada Wali, Creative and Co-Founder at Wali's Studio, Egypt
The female lens is not only important to consider once the work has been created, women are imperative at every stage of the creative process. Yet a creative crisis of confidence that is disproportionately affecting women has been afoot, resulting in the advertising industry losing some of its best female talent.
Women need to be recognised for the sacrifices they've had to make to become fantastic.Zubeida Goolam, Founder and Creative Managing Partner at Valiant Agency
Goolam’s advice for leaders is to ‘understand the difficulties that women have to endure on a daily basis, understand what we are faced with which is different to men’. She says that leaders must ‘extend understanding to others experience things beyond our own’ and be mindful of the sacrifices that women must make in the workplace. She says: “Women need to be recognised for the sacrifices they've had to make to become fantastic.”
Leading with empathy and respect may mean being flexible and accommodating to the needs of individuals. Finding balance post-pandemic in a new era of hybrid working remains one of the industry's biggest challenges which will only be managed by listening and learning.
“We need to build culture and creativity in work and remote,” says Wallace. Creative Equals data points to the fact that just 6% of creatives had their best idea whilst sitting at a desk so shaking up ways of working and seeking inspiration results in more fruitful creative pursuits. “Curiosity is the keyword,” says Wallace, “We need to take time to look into other things, explore and have moments of inspiration.”
More diversity will bring better work.Judite Mota, Chief Creative Officer and Managing Director at VMLY&R, Portugal
“More diversity will bring better work,” says Mota, adding: “I hope the world changes and creates space to have more fun again.” More fun both in the work and in the workplace leads to opportunities for curiosity, joy and humour that connect with audiences.
The Gerety Awards and Jury insights underline the importance of allowing time for rest and curiosity to create great work. Looking for insight, challenging ourselves to think differently and getting inspired by the creativity that surrounds us will result in more impactful global work. Work rooted in emotion as well as truth.
Read about this year’s Gerety Awards winners here.
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