It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Men World

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Men World

Twin Cities firms lead effort to gender-integrate advertising.

Women control as much as 85 percent of purchasing decisions in the United States, including food and furnishings, where the family will purchase their next home or car, and the vacations they will take. So why is advertising still a boys’ club, especially among management and senior creative?

Despite women’s immense purchasing power, in 2012 only 3 percent of advertising creative directors nationwide—the ones in charge of making appealing content—were women. So the 3% Conference was founded to help bring parity to the number of men and women serving as creative directors. (Since 2012, the proportion has risen to 11 percent.)

In Minneapolis, where the advertising industry brings in more than half a billion dollars annually, CEOs of two major companies, Christine Fruechte of Colle+McVoy and Mike Lescarbeau of Carmichael Lynch, saw this as a big enough issue to host a conference about it.

“Most people assume Mad Men is a quaint time capsule,” 3% founder Kat Gordon told Fast Company. “The wardrobe has changed and there’s no smoking and no bourbon, but if you really get down to the nitty-gritty, we haven’t made nearly the progress we should.” Failing to progress comes at a cost.

“This issue touches any company with a vested interested in producing creative work,” Fruechte tells TCB. “Not having strong female representation is simply bad for business.”

Fruechte’s organization is trying to walk the walk. She said that more than half of the employees at Colle+McVoy are women, and nearly half of the leadership team is—and has been for about a decade.

“While women are well represented at the agency, including our senior leadership team, we know we’re still moving the needle when it comes to our senior creative positions,” she says. “It’s an evolution that will certainly happen.” —Andre Eggert