Business: The 3% Movement
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Since we last spoke with Kat Gordon in 2017, the The 3% Conference has become The 3% Movement. What hasn’t changed is Kat’s intention to boost the visibility of women creative directors in advertising and increase the number of positive portrayals of women in the media.
In 2017, Kat launched a successful ad agency certification program for firms that are doing right by women. Today, she tells us about her outlook for the year to come and how women are changing the advertising industry.
What first inspired you to launch this movement?
My background is in advertising as a creative director. I worked in advertising for 25 years, and the higher up I got, the more keenly aware I became of how few women were in creative leadership roles. I realized that only three percent of creative directors were women, despite the fact that women control the majority of consumer spending and social sharing. There was better representation in departments like media and account management, but, on the creative side, the leaders were typically men.
This was a business awakening for me. When I ran my own ad agency specializing in marketing to women and moms, I'd often say how ridiculous it was that we “specialized” in marketing to women. Women are the superset, not the subset. Nobody owns an ad agency that specializes in marketing to men!
I became really fatigued knowing what the consumer marketplace looked like, with so much of tech adoption trending toward women, while my industry leaders were still very stubbornly male. So, I decided to create a community and a conversation around it.
I didn't know it would take off as dramatically as it did!
When we last spoke, your big goal for 2017 was launching a certification program awarding agencies who value diversity and want to be held accountable. How did this turn out?
3% Certified is up and running! It's the most robust inquiry into an agency's culture that exists in the marketplace. Two agencies -- VML and 72 and Sunny -- managed to pass certification, and four more are currently enrolled in the process. 3% is also doing more consulting inside agencies, as our industry struggles with some very public #metoo scandals.
What impact has the 3% Movement made in your industry?
Through a mix of content, community and professional development, we've helped raise the number of female creative directors to 11% while giving agencies a clear roadmap for championing female creative talent and leadership.
In 2018 are you seeing a change in the way women are portrayed in advertising/media?
The change has been gradual over the last few years, largely because consumers are using social media to talk back to brands. 3% launched a partnership last year with the Athena Film Festival, introducing the Athena Advertising Award. We selected five campaigns to celebrate brands depicting women in more dimensional, true-to-life ways.
What are you focused on in 2018?
Our movement now includes a two-day annual fall conference, one-day “MiniCons” in cities around the world, a certification program and agency consulting programs. We have a vibrant online community, a live Super Bowl Tweetup, a student scholarship fund, a business blog -- and more!
Kat, how does having more women creatives change the advertising industry?
It means the 3,000 ads you see daily were birthed from a diverse ideation process. That's a fancy way of saying that when people who don't think alike sit down to make ads, the ads are more interesting. They contain fewer stereotypes and have more nuanced storylines. These fresher perspectives are more likely to grab your attention and make you think.
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