Eliminating the gender communications gap with more female creatives

  • Voices
  • March 7, 2018
  • Colleen Ryan
Eliminating the gender communications gap with more female creatives

Conversations about diversity in the workforce are already on high volume and will only get louder around International Women’s Day this month. Although diversity isn’t just about women there is sure to be renewed discussion about pay gaps, glass ceilings and inappropriate behaviour toward women in the workplace. Role models of successful women will come to the fore including our own prime minister who is leading the way on the issue of working mums and their right to have both a family and a career.

As a nation, Kiwis feel very strongly about equality and equal rights. Our recent work exploring New Zealand culture1 has reaffirmed the Kiwi hardwired sense of fairness, which we see emerges in a belief in social equivalence for example – one of the Kiwi codes we identified. Kiwis feel passionately that we should behave in a way that gives everyone a fair go and equal opportunity so it vexes us that, while business and the economy are doing well, social conditions are getting worse for many people2.

Another code that we identify with as New Zealanders is our self-determination, so it’s not surprising we support the rights of women and are proud to have a strong history in women’s suffrage. (September 2018 marks 125 years since women were given the vote in New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world to grant the right to vote to all adult women.) And we can also be somewhat proud of our record in climbing gradually up the Global Gender Gap Index, ranking ninth in the world in 2017 (compared to 35th for Australia – Iceland takes out the top spot).

But it’s not just about fairness and the moral high ground. For marketing and communications, it’s also about how effectively we communicate with women as employees, as customers and as shareholders.

Whereas the IPA is responsible for the bounty of evidence that demonstrates how advertising works, it is the recruitment industry that has led the way in understanding the impact of who created the advertising – specifically the sex of the creator – and the gender bias in the language used to communicate.

Motivated by the desire to attract more women to apply for advertised roles, companies have tested ads written by men versus those written by women for the same position. What they found was that the ads written by women attracted significantly more female applicants.

When these ads were reviewed there were no obviously discernible differences between those written by men or by women. Equally, the applicants themselves couldn’t detect any bias yet the results were unequivocal. Trained semioticians carrying out discourse analysis on the text were able to identify linguistic differences where the untrained eye had not and this analysis is informing the process of achieving gender-neutral language and style in recruitment ads. Software products are now available to do the job for you because, however well-intentioned, it seems that human beings cannot help unconsciously conveying gender bias when they communicate.

So extrapolate from that to the advertising industry and consider the very many ads written by male creatives that are intended for a female audience – or even a general audience which means that half will be women.

When we create communication material we are creating meaning in deliberate and also in unintentional ways. We inadvertently use signs and signals – linguistic and visual – that convey messages coded into the communication. Look how often we see brands make cultural missteps that no-one picked up before release because someone missed seeing the cultural context. But these are the overt signs that are obvious to us all, whereas the biases the recruitment analysis picked up was much more subtle and covert.

In the last decade, thanks to the work of the IPA, we have come to a much better understanding of how advertising works. Specifically relevant to the issue of gender bias is what we have learned about unconscious processing, one of the key findings of the IPA research. Not only are people unaware of much of what we see, though none the less still influenced by it, but also even when we are conscious of advertising material it works upon us at an unconscious emotional level. And it is this emotional response to covert signals in the recruitment ads that caused the strong skew toward female applicants.

Consider then that maybe having a few more women in the creative departments might result in comms that attract better unconscious responses from women. Whether or not women consciously recognise advertising that is created by women for women, it seems that they may be unconsciously drawn more strongly to it and therefore identify with the brand it is representing.

Currently around one in ten creative directors are female and although the ratio is higher across the whole creative team it certainly doesn’t align with the estimates that say 75 percent of purchase decisions are either made or significantly influenced by women. Most advertising, therefore, is created by men for women.

This is not intended in any way to be a criticism of the creative brilliance of the men in the creative teams in advertising nor is it suggesting any lack of sensitivity on their part toward their audience, but none of us is immune to the unintentional covert meanings we create.

So, let’s lead the way again New Zealand and make our ratio of women creatives the envy of the world. Oh, and get a woman to write the recruitment ad.

 

[1] The Kiwi Cultural Codes were developed as a collaborative project between TRA and True

[2] The New Zealand Values and Attitudes Survey lead by Professor Chris Selby, Auckland University

Colleen is the head of strategy at TRA.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Movings/Shakings: 22 February

  • Movings/Shakings, brought to you by Marsden Inch
  • February 22, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Movings/Shakings: 22 February

Industry happenings at Google NZ, Fuse and Uprise Digital.

Read more

Axis 2019: Colenso BBDO to defend its title, leads finalists with FCB and DDB

  • Awards
  • February 21, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Axis 2019: Colenso BBDO to defend its title, leads finalists with FCB and DDB

The finalists for the 2019 Axis Awards have been announced and it’s Colenso BBDO leading the way with 64 mentions, followed by FCB on 55 and DDB on 51.

Read more

Diversity and inclusion in action: Why Spark gets behind the Pride community

  • Media
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sarah Williams
Diversity and inclusion in action: Why Spark gets behind the Pride community

One of Aotearoa's biggest companies, Spark, is a firm supporter of the LGBTQI+ community through its annual Pride advertising campaigns, its partnership with charity OUTline, and its diversity and inclusion values within the company. Head of brand at Spark New Zealand Sarah Williams explains why the company chose to champion this social issue, how these campaigns attract both the loudest praise and the greatest vilification from New Zealanders, and why that it makes it the most important cause the company champions.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...

Sky fall: Competition swipes sales, subscribers

  • Media
  • February 20, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Sky fall: Competition swipes sales, subscribers

Sky Television's first half profit has dropped sharply as it battles tough competition, forcing it to raise prices.

Read more
Hey, Big Spender: Navigating the wild world of marketing technology
features

Hey, Big Spender: Navigating the wild world of marketing technology

Fun fact: The average CMO spends more on technology than many CIOs. Has the job of the marketer suddenly become complicated? And how do you know you're making the right decisions when it comes to all that tech?

voices

Strategy Creative secures Canterbury Rugby account

  • Advertising
  • February 19, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Strategy Creative secures Canterbury Rugby account

Strategy Creative announced this week that they had won the Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) account after a competitive pitch process.

Read more

NZME FY 2018 results: profit down and paywall on way

  • Media
  • February 19, 2019
  • Erin McKenzie
NZME FY 2018 results: profit down and paywall on way
NZME Chief Executive Michael Boggs

NZME’s FY 2018 results are out, showing a net profit of $11.6 million, down 44 percent on FY 2017.

Read more

British comedian John Oliver offers solution to NZ being excluded from world maps

  • Media
  • February 19, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
British comedian John Oliver offers solution to NZ being excluded from world maps

New Zealand's so often getting left out on world maps, even the government is having a laugh - that is after appearing to have somehow missed us off too.

Read more

Ads of the Week: 19 February

  • TVC of the Week
  • February 19, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the Week: 19 February

A round of applause for The Edge, House of Travel, and Joblist.

Read more
Creative excellence: Shane Bradnick on the Axis Awards, creativity, and change
news

Creative excellence: Shane Bradnick on the Axis Awards, creativity, and change

StopPress speaks with Shane Bradnick about his move from DDB to take up a role at TBWA\New Zealand, his thoughts on award shows and his role as convenor at the 2019 Comms Council Axis Awards.

Identity crisis or brand evolution? Cigarette giant Philip Morris talks angling to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025

  • Brand
  • February 19, 2019
  • Findlay Buchanan
Identity crisis or brand evolution? Cigarette giant Philip Morris talks angling to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025

Philip Morris – the largest tobacco company in the world – has declared it will transform the tobacco industry in support of New Zealand's Smokefree 2025 initiative. In time, it plans to stub out its cigarette range – which includes Marlboro, Parliament and Virginia S and move towards a future of fruity, trendy vapes and e-cigarettes. It’s a tactical maneuver from the giant cigarette corporate as alternative cigarettes slowly receive validation by scientists, governments, and consumers – but is the move really a ploy for Smokefree 2025, or more of a smoke screen by Philip Morris? And in the midst of all this, has its sudden departure from cigarettes led to a branding identity crisis? We speak to the managing director, James Williams, who explains the company's foray into the smoke-free market.

Read more

Little Giant appointed digital partner for TVNZ's Re: web expansion

  • Media
  • February 18, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Little Giant appointed digital partner for TVNZ's Re: web expansion

Little Giant, Linked by Isobar has been announced as the digital partner for the development of TVNZ's Re: News channel, which has had a Facebook presence since 2017. Re: News will be launched as a new website in March.

Read more

MKTG announces Kimberly Kastelan as general manager

  • Advertising
  • February 15, 2019
  • StopPress Team
MKTG announces Kimberly Kastelan as general manager
Fleur Skinner, Kimberly Kastelan

Kimberly Kastelan is the new general manager MKTG in New Zealand, a promotion from her previous role as the agency's group account director. The appointment follows Fleur Skinner’s resignation.

Read more

Movings/Shakings: 15 February

  • Movings/Shakings, brought to you by Marsden Inch
  • February 15, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Movings/Shakings: 15 February

Industry happenings at Perceptive, The Trade Desk, and Pead PR.

Read more

Tender love or chicken tender? Hell Pizza challenges Valentine’s Day tradition

  • Advertising
  • February 15, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Tender love or chicken tender? Hell Pizza challenges Valentine’s Day tradition

Yesterday, Hell Pizza and BC&F Dentsu challenged the idea of Valentine’s Day with a campaign promoting a night for one, rather than a night out with the masses at a restaurant or bar.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit