Kat Mercer: Here's to all the crazies

ABo7OCw0_400x400.jpgSydney-based creative director and copywriter Kat Mercer dedicates this poem to all the women in advertising for International Women's Day.

Here's to all the crazies.

To all the brave women who dare enter this boy's club.
And to all those who stuck it out.

Here's to all the mums juggling kids and a career, in an industry not supportive of it.
And those who decided to leave it and never come back.

Here's to all the lady directors who've had to work twice as hard to get there as their male counterparts.
And those still trying to get there.

Here's to every woman with big enough balls to join a creative department full of them.
And those who showed them when they got there.
Here's to all the women who created something only to be slammed by someone called Anonymous.
And here's to those who didn't read them and kept creating.

Here's to every single woman doing the same job as their male colleague for 14.6% less.
And those doing something to try and equalise it.

Here's to the mums who told their interviewer they were a mum, when it cost them a job.
And those who lied about it to get one.

Here's to all the women who have been called a bitch for standing up for themselves.
And those who backed them up, when no one else would.

Here's to all the women who've spoken up about harassment.
And those about to, who fear losing their jobs.

Here's to the "me toos," the "we cans" and the "I'm going to do it anyways".
And here's to all the women who have been called crazy.

Keep up the good work.

68 Comments

GIRL GANG said:

Thanks Kat that made me feel really powerful today!

Adam said:

Well said Kat. Nice.

twinkle said:

This is lovely. Thank you.

womaninadvertising! said:

Awesome words - go Kat!

Bronts said:

A++++++++

Just a boy said:

This is lovely but some balance would have been nice. It's not just a boys club everywhere. In fact the agency I work at is 70% women. I realise you can't please all the people all the time but this discussion needs to have some element of acknowledging those who are helping be more progressive in this area, guys and girls. I know a few agencies where women are able to work part time so they can look after their kids, for instance. Also, my female counterpart gets more money than I do. And so she should, she's been in it longer than me. Call me crazy, but surely we can raise awareness while also celebrating progress?

Stop the blame said:

Here’s to women who stop blaming gender inequality for their career achievements or lack of.
From a woman who doesn’t believe in excuses.

@just a boy said:

Wow, seriously? You sound like one of those guys that complain there isn't an international men's day. Nice write up Kat.

Ellie Jones said:

Feels gross to jump into the cb comment bloodbaths, but I just want to acknowledge that this piece isn't blaming, it's acknowledging people who've been working on equality for women - women themselves, in their own careers.

So, thanks for writing it Kat. I feel very privileged and grateful that I joined this industry at a time when women before me have laid a lot of groundwork in that regard. And here's to all the other intersections of identities that have been traditionally excluded from creative industries too.

Also to those stealing from women said:


Thanks Kat. This is nice.

Also, dear agency leaders - why are we still accepting the pay gap?

It's so easy to fix. Get an audit and fix it. Stop ripping off women. It's stealing.

Hi said:

Dear @just a boy

Ofcourse your partner gets paid more if she's more experienced. No one should be thankful for that because it's fair. This point is irrelevant.

Is your creative department 70% women? Unless it's close to 50/50 then there's still a problem. If agencies that are full of women making the men's ideas happen - there's still a problem,


@Stop the blame

This is not about blame. It's a celebration of women who have to work harder to get the same recognition as a man. There's plenty of evidence to support this notion.
Also, maybe read up on unconscious bias. If you don't know how that works, then I would question if you understand how brands work.

Just a boy said:

@Hi
Why is it a problem if it's 70%? Surely it doesn't matter if the best people are in the roles.
I'm not trying to be hostile, I'm genuinely interested as to why you feel that way.

Natural selection said:

Why does any dept need to have an even 50/50 gender split?
Surely, there's a natural tendency for some professions to be skewed one way or another.

Take tv production, for example. I work at a Sydney based agency that doesn't have a single male producer, and the dept head is a woman, but it's not seen as an issue that needs to be adressed.

BJ said:

Here's to you!!

Martina Sheen said:

I like this piece so much I could do the VO!

Poking the bear said:

@ Natural Selection....agree.

It does seem funny how only some careers/roles are identified as needing a gender balance. Some might say that the majority of Producers are female because of reasons completely unrelated to any bias. And I'm okay with that.

Stop sexism towards men said:

Balance out the heavily female-skewed Production, Media and PR departments.

Steve Equally Paid Jobs said:

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Be original get noticed.

Martina Sheen said:

@SteveEquallyPaidJobs

see my comment above

Martina Sheen said:

I like this piece so much I could do the VO!

@Just a boy said:

It's genuinely nice that you're asking.

The reason is that the idea of merit alone being the measure of why people get into roles is a fallacy. There are many factors that mean it's easier for men to be promoted and given more opportunities in creative industries. More specifically creative roles rather than the 'making it happen' roles. A core part of this is the systematic unconscious biases at work that make it harder for women to survive in this industry - from the way we judge their ideas, to how much influence they have in a room.

Here's an example (that reflects many other examples and the research) of what happens when we take gender out of the equation when it comes to creative chops. Last year, TropFest took the names of the directors off the entries. After years and years of women being 1 or 2 of the finalists - bang - all of a sudden it was 50/50. Nothing changes except the names being removed.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/simone-ball/the-tropfest-redemption-why-it-matters-that-half-this-years-fi_a_21711111/

In previous years - everyone would have said it was all about merit. But clearly there are other forces at work.

We can't take the gender off the people we work with. But we can think about how these forces are holding women back and what we can do about them.

Whether we are men or women, we all have to work hard to get anywhere in this industry. But it's useful to consider the shit that women need to work at to get to the same place as their male equivalent. And to be honest, if it was a 50/50 split - it would be a great way to be confident that gender isn't helping one way or another.

Nope said:

@ Stop the blame - Here’s to all the women who refuse to support other women, they are equally part of the issue.

Male crazy one said:

Here’s to writing some decent ads and not using gender as an excuse or letting it get in the way.

Me said:

Nice one, thank you for this.

Just a boy said:

@Hi

Ok, thanks for clarifying. Good points made but a 50/50 split doesn't confirm that gender isn't playing a role. It might even raise suspicion further.
Using the same approach as Tropfest you could hire 100 people just from looking at their anonymous CVs and still end up with an uneven split.

Nicola M said:

LOVE this Kat. Well said.

Re @Just a boy said:

PR, for example, involve concepts and piece of crafted writing, which get “judged” before happening.

So PR is also a Creative Role not just a ‘make it happen’ role - yet it’s heavily female-skewed.

Not sure your theory that all heavily female adland roles are non-Creative holds any water...

@Just a boy said:

Yes, this is true. It's complicated.

But what do you think of that change about Trop Fest? What does that say to you about how we judge people in creative industries?

Just a boy said:

I think that Tropfest example is a frightening revealer of how we are bias in ways we perhaps are not even fully aware of. It's shocking. As a creative who has hired other creatives I know that I probably do have a proclivity towards male creatives but nonetheless have tried my best to always let the work determine who is best for the roles. Good discussion.

reverse discrimination said:

its amazing to me that someone is actually suggesting that a male who may have better work should lose out on a job to a woman just to balance a department's gender quota. talent doesn't discriminate, nor should agencies. either way...

@reverse discrimination said:

Don’t you see, that’s what the kids talentless want.

The talented couldn’t give a shit.

Rat said:

I worked in the same creative dept as Kat back at the old M&C at 131.She worked hard,grabbed opportunities and was well liked.As far as I could see she was never overlooked or denied a brief or a promotion due to being female.The level she reached was genuinely reflective of her talent.I honestly hope she accepts that.

Exhausting said:

I can't even read this shit any more. Maybe that's because I'm a male creative who honestly gives no shits about what sex, colour or gender you identify with. Its about the work. Last time I was part responsible for a hire, the ECD asked me which of two candidates we should hire. One was a guy, one was a girl. Both offered amazing skill sets and were different. I convinced the ECD to hire both. I honestly think there are overall less females in creative in advertising than other industries. There are more females in styling, PR, media and fashion than males. Can't we just accept that industries are going to be skewed??? I'm 200% for equality but we need to acknowledge some basic fundamentals and move the conversation along.

Just a girl said:

And cheers to the guys who helped us girls get there. You know who you are.

oh the irony said:

Let's copy an ad about original thinkers.

the other victims said:

On this international Womens Day, can we please spare a thought for the suffering of the women who's husbands, fathers, sons and brothers lose their careers due to anonymous, unsubstantiated online accusations.

I'm sorry said:

But this is somebody looking for relevance.

Dad said:

My wife and I bought up 3 kids.We both worked in the ad industry and both cooked,helped with homework and did all the stuff all parents do.Quite often someone would say to my wife -wow how do you do it?Full time work and mum.Amazing!Often it was said in front of me.It didn't really bother me but my wife would get quite upset on my behalf.
I am still yet to hear anyone say to a male parent-jeez how do you do it?Full time work nd a father to three.Wow!
I find this interesting.


@Just a Boy said:

To answer your question, I think if you flip a coin 100 times - sometimes you'll get 50/50 heads/tails... but sometimes, you'll get 70/30 heads/tails.

The TropFest experiment, while interesting, needs repeating quite a lot to ensure validity.

Males of the department said:

We’re for equality.
We’re for credit where credit is due.
We’re even for anonymous criticism when it’s warranted.
We’re for being called arseholes when we deserve it.
However...
We’re also for a salary that matches the ability.
We’re for an unequal representation of gender if it means the work is the best it can be.
And we’re all for making this the last time a tired old manifesto structure is abused to make a point about creativity. Surely there’s a more interesting way.

Adam said:

Nice piece. Really nice.

Gents, it's totally about the work. It's totally about experience. It's totally about skills, knowledge and talent. Nobody has said anything different.

You can't argue with the facts on things like pay gaps between genders. And if you're truthful, you understand that all around you are examples of inequality based on gender, race, sexuality... to claim otherwise and constantly trying to disprove the matter is a real dick move.


50/50 said:

Just because it's about 50/50 split in the population doesn't mean we should force that in every single job. Plumbers, for examples. Let's get something going to support a minimum 50% female plumber workforce.

LadyECD said:

My god, the absolute screaming white male privilege in some of these comments - I'm really glad I haven't eaten breakfast yet.
@justaboy - even if you were the bastion of equal representation in an agency that had 50/50 across the board that DOES NOT mean that you represent the vast experience of everyone else. Look at the statistics - it's a joke.
Why as a creative woman should I be satisfied with a pat on the head and the platitude that "more men in the creative department is just how it is - but look - you can be a producer - or a suit!".
It's like saying to a bright young student - hey you're female - good news - you can be a nurse! All the doctors are male - that's just how it is.
Or a cadet journalist. Sorry - only the guys do the writing, but don't worry you can be a secretary!
And just to top it all off, some revolting little man comes out of the shadows and caps the thread off with some good old fashioned victim-blaming. You actually sympathise with sexual abusers do you, @theothervictims? Wow.

@ Lady ECD said:

No one has said any of the things you're saying was said! No offence, but another example of your own unconscious bias contorting the general conversation to be something it isn't.

All that was said, is some industries are more populated by boys, and some are more populated by girls.

And lol, you're an ECD! Higher than I'll probably ever achieve and Im a white male. And that's awesome! You clearly earned it and deserve it! No one is saying a female creative should be a producer! We're saying the role of production seems to attract more women. END OF STORY.

Wrong number said:

I like the poem, but I'm sick of people trotting out these bogus pay gap figures (14.6% less) It is simply incorrect. That number doesn't take into account hours worked, or the different jobs men and women choose to work. In fact in the USA and Britain, women earn more than men up until the age of 35. Then it drops off, most likely due to having kids. Do the research people. People need to do a bit of research.

I wonder.... said:

How many talented women considered or even started out in creative but then realised how innately sexist creative departments can be?

@ladyecd said:

maybe next time have that breakfast before making ridiculously biased responses. it seems the 'little man' (you automatically assumed it to be) was making is that there are no winners and many losers (many of whom are female) when someone's career is ended due to unqualified, anonymous trolls playing judge, jury and executioner. Leave it to the professionals and then the harassers should get everything they deserve.

Sad man said:

I’m sad.

Sad that good people who were once brought together by great ideas are now divided.

Sad that they are divided by something as small as gender. Not divided by opinions on the ideas, the work, the nuance or craft.

Divided by numbers. Statistics.

Sad that this is an issue. Sad there is so much angst.

Sad that in the supposedly sexist days of the 90s and 00s, women and men both had more fun. Sad there were many more women in the creative department back then. Sad they are not here now, for whatever reason. Sad that the creative department was triple, quadruple the size they are now.

Sad that sexist pigs still exist, sad that they weren’t all forced out in the cull of the GFC. Sad that a lot of women I know slept willingly with their bosses now call it a power play. Sad that they were promoted ahead of more deserving creatives.

But I am saddest that in 2018, when there has never been a better time to be a creative that our industry has nothing better to talk about.

I understand there is an issue to be dealt with. But you are creating a new one by dragging this out.

@sadman said:

Are you saying that 'a lot of women you know' slept with their bosses and were then 'promoted ahead of more deserving creatives'?
So they slept their way to the top?
How many are we talking here?
Because I do not know a single woman who has ever done that.

@11:08 am said:

You’re saying you don’t know a single woman in advertising who slept with their boss?

Just a boy said:

@ladyECD Im not sure why you're saying some things that I never claimed, or why you're doing it in such an aggressive manner. It's been a good discussion, don't ruin it because you missed breakfast.

50/50 said:

Just because it's about 50/50 split in the population doesn't mean we should force that in every single job. Plumbers, for examples. Let's get something going to support a minimum 50% female plumber workforce.

Bigger picture said:

As long as the people deciding who "the best person for the job" is are primarily male, then it's hard to say that the "person" decided upon is actually that. In a society where women make around 80% of the purchasing decisions our role as creatives is to have ideas that resonate because of empathetic insights. Judging by the ignorant comments above, it seems few of the authors could honestly say they have empathy for women at large.

@Fact Checker said:

Bravo. This is for the UK. How about your so called fact checking reveals something factual about Australia.

Oh 11:08am said:

I can even name people who have married their boss.

ECD said:

I hired Kat to freelance and she was great. i also paid her exactly the same amount as her male partner.

Your friendly neighbourhood male creative said:

As a male creative who absolutely loves the women he works with as well as fixing problems, please let me help.

Not to mansplain or make you feel inferior or that you need a mans help.

But I would love nothing more than to fix these inequities that we are only just now finding out actually are an issue.

If you want to solve it yourself please do. But otherwise, I’m here.

It's not you, it's me. said:

There's such a frenzy to balance the books and appoint females to CD roles right now. If you're a senior female creative and you're not being tapped on the shoulder, think about a new career. You must stink.

Nice one said:

This whole thread is horrible. At least 70% privileged white male bullshit. Hmmm.. those statistics sounds familiar...

The status quo said:

You seriously overestimate the amount of fucks we give.

@Thestatusquo said:


Re "You seriously overestimate the amount of fucks we give."

We don't actually.

@2:34 said:

Who’s ‘we’?

Piss off said:

You’re all so damn white and over-privileged. You want to talk about ‘struggle’? Please do.

Other side said:

Hello to another day of women who have had a hard time in Advertising land, and to reading the sorry face poem. However, lucky for me, I have had the most gorgeous time in this industry! I'm a crazie too I suppose,, work a bit late but somehow got paid enough, and equally, mainly because I asked and said 'tribunal' if they looked a bit doubtful (only twice). Moved onto men clients and girly clients - get over it - Because my experience matched the fit needed.

I just do not relate to one thing in the poem. I've had my work slagged by everyone, praised, and been on 'mixed gender' teams knocked out in mega pitches. I've sat in hiring and we've looked for the money folio. Half the time we didn't look at the names. My best mates are guys I've worked with and still work with. My worst times have been with guys and women equally. I've had clients shade me down and ask how would I know I'm a woman. But never lost one. I'm totally aware of how bad it can be and waded in with support. So don't hit me up with being dumb to others. But I know I'm not the only one who's happy. There's heaps of us. We must start writing in more.

privilege, arrogance, lack of empathy said:

Reading these comments make me sad. Time after time women are calling out and saying there is something wrong and they’re hurting because of it and all I read is arrogant comments that lack empathy like these ones. There are a lot of great people in advertising but we’re allowing the few that actually hurt people to stick around. When you can’t look at a problem and see anything but yourself and are stubborn to change, there is a problem. Fortunately there had been a small shift and lots of people are looking at things and changing them but there obviously is still a problem when we read comments like these ones. Very sad.

Male CD said:

Years ago I noticed the lack of women in the creative department So I started offering my own time as a mentor to talented women I have met - or even those who just reached out to me on LinkedIn.

I’ve been doing this for about six years now and what is most frustrating is in the last year, five have all decided they’ve had enough and either quit the business entirely or have gone client / account side.

All of them mention similar reasons, that they feel it’s just not for them.

The only thing that has changed in the last year is the conversation around women in creative. Nothing else has changed - I am still a working creative and i honestly have not noticed working conditions change at all.

To me, the conversation is damaging for young, aspiring creatives. It says ‘no matter how hard you try you can’t do it because you’re a woman.’

And that’s bullshit. They can, and are far more capable than most male creatives I’ve worked with.

I don’t know the answer but I know the problem - please, if you want things to change you need to be the change you seek - otherwise you are just another big part of the problem.

Mercer Mayhem said:

Watch this jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman interview, then edit your poem accordingly

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