McCann NY's Vojta Looks Through Glass
Daniela Votja, co-ECD at McCann NY, examines how the gender stereotype-smashing award has evolved.
The Glass Lion category aims to reward work that addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice. How important is the role of advertising in addressing gender issues across the globe?
Extremely important. Positive messages coming from brands have the power to reach masses, making them part of culture and collective consciousness. Of course it’s ideal when these companies enforce the same philosophies and policies themselves.
What, for you, makes a campaign Glass Lion-worthy and are there any pieces of work from the last 12 months that have impressed you in particular?
I like it when awareness is paired with tangible actions. McCann’s Fearless Girl initiative is a great example because it supports a fund that invests in companies with women in leadership positions (as they’ve been proven to perform better). So while the bronze statue was an instant sensation, the fund will make a measurable difference in the future of women and society.
What do you think the jury will be looking for in this category?
This year is such a pivotal one for gender issues. Women and minorities have reacted to the election of the US president with marches and self-empowering messages. I think the jury will be looking for messages that stand up in this context but also reward ideas that address local, smaller-scale issues. Unfortunately there’s a plethora of issues to be addressed around the world.
Previous years have awarded work addressing female inequality (Touch The Pickle; #ShareTheLoad) and transgender issues (The 6 Pack Band). How do you see the category developing?
Hopefully, if the category still exists 20 years from now campaigns may need to be created to support straight white men! Until then, there are hundreds of gender issues that creativity should help solve. Human trafficking is a huge issue worldwide but no campaign has been awarded so far. I think it’s important to also recognise the efforts of brands that consistently, year after year, support gender equality by putting their money where their mouth is.
There’s an argument that until the problem of female under-representation in the industry – particularly in the top creative echelons of agencies – is fixed, adverts will never be truly gender neutral. Do you agree?
Yes, though I’d like to see a better gender, race and age balance in creative departments. Because women make 85 per cent of all consumer purchases there are economic reasons why gender neutrality makes sense. Making advertising look more gender neutral through casting and obvious tricks is not the answer. Women can help the industry do a much better job of really communicating with women, beyond the obvious categories. For instance, there are 67.5 million strong female NFL fans in the US, yet not many female creatives get to work on sports accounts.
Last year saw the launch of #FreeTheBid to help female directors – what can be done to help female creatives rise through the ranks?
#FreeTheBid is a great way to help level the field in production companies. On the agency side it’s a bit different because we see lots of amazing female creatives entering the market every year. One of the biggest problems is when they decide to have kids. A lot of extraordinary women quit or become freelancers. A simple solution would be to give men and women the same amount of maternity and paternity leave, so there’s no more division between gender roles.
What for you is the most exciting thing about working in advertising at the moment?
The fact that creativity has no boundaries. Ideas can live in any way, shape or form. The bar is really high and has forced agencies and creatives to become more entrepreneurial and innovative.
Another thing that fuels me is the fact that most companies are now involved with social causes. We’ve seen the creation of dedicated budgets and opportunities to make a true difference while still being true to a brand’s DNA. For example, Microsoft is really committed to getting more girls interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and has developed programmes and classes for this. It makes total sense because tech companies have a hard time finding female coders and programmers and by next year there’ll be 2.5 million STEM jobs unfilled. Another example is P&G/Tide’s Loads of Hope programme. It’s their biggest ROI and they don’t even need to advertise it because consumers see their bottles and don’t hesitate to lean in.
What’s been your favourite campaign in any category from the past 12 months?
I really loved the Sandy Hook Promise Evan campaign as well as the Toddlers Kill work (which I was involved in) because I can’t believe we haven’t been able to significantly change gun regulation in this country.
Will you be attending Cannes Lions this year and if so, what are you looking forward to most?
I’m not sure yet, but I would love to be a judge in the Glass category one day. I tell everyone that even having work that qualifies is a huge honour and a shortlist is worth many golds in other competitions.
- Agency McCann New York
- Executive Creative Director Daniela Vojta
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