Cindy Gallop: 'Forget passion - find things you want to punch'

Gallop (Picture: Bronac McNeill)
Gallop (Picture: Bronac McNeill)

Cindy Gallop has urged women to found the "female-led holding company of the future" in the wake of the dramatic exit of former WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

In a passionate speech, delivered to Creative Equals’ Future Leaders conference in London yesterday, Gallop urged women in the creative industries to build their own financial ecosystem "because the white male-dominated one is not working for us".

Holding a copy of The Sunday Times Rich List, she urged the audience, which was primarily made up of women to make it on to the list.

Describing the current state of the advertising ecosystem as "collaborative competition" where essentially every agency is competing to do exactly the same thing, she described its future as being rooted in collaboration. "Imagine the female founded holding company of the future. All it takes is one or two of you to be the next Martina Sorrell and make it onto the list," she said.

In a wide-ranging talk, Gallop said that sexual harassment was the single biggest issue holding women back in their careers and driving a continued drain of talent from the industry. She urged women to come forward and call out bad behaviour, saying: "It isn’t until we name names that we can have the context we need to have the discussion about how the industry will change."

She advised women not to go to HR with any sexual harassment issues but straight to the chief executive of their business and tell them that "it is their responsibility to intervene".

"If nobody speaks up nothing changes. When you speak up about harassment no one can retaliate. They should welcome having it brought to their attention otherwise they will continue to haemorrhage female talent," Gallop explained.

Gallop said she was tired of being asked to talk and write about diversity and urged to the industry not to make campaigns about diversity, but 'be fucking diverse’. She said: "It is an absolute god-damned outrage there isn’t enough black talent. I am gobsmacked that white male executive creative directors aren’t falling over themselves to hire people with disabilities. People with disabilities have to hack life every day they are some of the most creative people you will ever come across."  She pointed to the untapped talent of the brilliant Sulaiman Khan, founder and chief purpose officer of This Ability.

She continued: "Why is not every white male creative directors not falling over themselves to hire mothers. Our entire industries is about persuading people to do things they don’t want to do. They are extraordinary pools of creative resources."

Gallop urged the audience to channel their frustrations into creating new-business models and creative work, saying: ‘Forget passion, find things you want to punch," adding, "what better use do we have for creativity than creating the world we want to live, work and be fulfilled in?"

Cindy Gallop on the future of advertising

1. Maximise opportunity about where you are now

Do not do anything else until you have absolutely done everything you can to succeed where you are. Decide exactly what you want to do  in your current role and go to your boss and ask for it.

2. Start your own ‘agency’

Start anything that gives you agency. Look around you and think what you think is missing, what you would like to see that nobody else has done and then do that.

3. Be the future of advertising

Seize the massive gap that no one else is filling. The white male founders of tech companies hate advertising we can build something better.

4. Rebalance the power equation

Our agency suffers from shiny new object syndrome. We say to tech companies like Snapchat: ‘Please can you take our money and tell us what we are allowed to do on your platform’. When you hate advertising you have no interest to dedicating your time to creating compelling advertising. There is a huge opportunity for the tech platforms to create better ad products. Yet Facebook despite its massive resources is creates ad units not advertising products. The opportunity is to craft things of utility and value that surprise and delight consumers in the way they’re delivered.

5. Reinvent aspirational culture

White male creative directors hiring white male creative directors do not live the reality of the impact of the social construct they create. Today the economy demands that both sides of a couple work and that demands completely different solutions and we have the opportunity to re-invent popular culture through our creative output. We can help and inspire people to live their best lives.

6. Be our consumers

Our white male dominated industry is looking for creativity in all the wrong places.  Women are not at the table because we are on the menu. We have the opportunity to drive change. Women challenge the status quo because we are never it.

Advertising has robbed itself from the innovation and disruption of the female talent leaving the industry. There is a huge amount of money to be made from listening to women.


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