The Women Are Now The Mad Men

One of the more interesting side effects of the popularity of AMC’s “Mad Men” (which starts its 4th season on Sunday) is that the show has thrown a spotlight on the ad industry. And let’s be honest, most people who don’t work in the ad biz, or don’t really know anyone who does, haven’t got a clue how the whole business really works.
So it’s always enlightening to see how the industry gets portrayed in today’s media, either building upon or changing the perceptions people have. Writing in Forbes, Carol Hymowitz takes a look at women’s roles in today’s agencies.

“The workplace environment at our agency is completely different to the one Peggy Olsen experienced,” says Ilana Bryant, partner and global chief strategy officer at StrawberryFrog, whose clients include P&G, Liberty Mutual and Jim Beam. “Women comprise 50% of our employees and are in all roles that were dominated by men at (Mad Men’s) Sterling Cooper. A case in point: our Executive Creative Director, our Don Draper, is a woman and ironically our office manager, our Joan Holloway, is a man,” she says.
Nevertheless, many of the largest ad agencies are still heavily male dominated at the C-suite level, Bryant says. “I can relate to a lot of Peggy’s experiences-particularly to being the only woman in the room full of skeptical, older men and having to exert yourself to ‘own the room.”’

I can honestly say that I’ve worked directly for more women creative directors than men in the course of my career. Maybe my experience is an anomaly. I do happen to think men and women look at the world quite differently, and the way both sexes communicate is a part of that. Since advertising is a communication business first and foremost, there’ll always be a little tension between the sexes, which can be a bad thing–or a really good one. Tension, managed properly, can lead to great creative work.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.