Advertising is a world into itself. AMC’s Mad Men depicts it as a high octane boys club. In the world of advertising, fictional advertising, men are hard drinking, lovable skirt chasers. The fictional ad men are also the creative fuel that drives their agencies.
But let’s have a dose real-life, alright? Mad Men has no minorities or even women in roles other than the traditional secretary, wife or girl intent on nailing her boss and getting job permanence.
Carson Dunn Media (CDM) is a refreshing departure. The creative director and president is black, CDM’s second creative trust is a woman, Kimberly Bautista. She is young, less than twenty-two. She is both art director and associate creator director.
A creative director is not only a visionary, but two-fisted, and has swagger. Sure, it’s a projection, but women are wired to kick ass and nurture at the same time. These are the main ingredients of a leader. That’s Kimberly.
The story is told in the office of an advertising veteran. He cajoled and tried manipulation to become assistant art director. But, Kim had the foresight to see that this guy wanted to take over the agency. Kim’s leadership helped stave off disaster. The interloper has gone on to ruin some other agency.
It’s a shame other agency’s don’t value women like we do. What’s my point?
Less than 3%, up creative directors are women. There is an equally abysmal statistic regarding minorities in creative agencies. When the color favor is added, the percentage is less than 1%. Why is that? There is no good answer. CDM is a small shop, but versatile enough to tackle the general market. We don’t regulate ourselves to a niche although we can go there efficiently. We buck the stats and truly believe in race and gender equality.
Sadly advertising isn’t known for nurturing. That is because it is competitive, fast and filled with insecurities. We don’t want to be replaced by the newer, younger, better model. Bernard A. McNealy, head of CDM rode with Wyatt Earp back in the day and embraces mentoring young Kim Bautista’s. The reason is simple. The UC Irvine grad is not only smart and will eventually be a major creative, hopefully at CDM.
If we are to be anything exceptional, it starts with our art director. Hopefully women will be inspired to break the last shackle of an industry where there is a deliberate stifling of true creativity. Every agency has talented women — talented enough to head an agency’s art department — or serve as a creative director. So it is imperative to shatter this 3% barrier.
Let us market our clients and decimate those shameful statistics. After all, men and women deserve to be measured by character.
Bernard A. McNealy, President