The 4A’s is committed to sharing the thoughts of some of the most important leaders in the ad industry on women and diversity. Here Crosby Marketing Communications’ EVP Chief Strategy Officer, Tammy Campbell-Ebaugh, takes the spotlight. Prior to joining Crosby in 2001, Campbell-Ebaugh honed her brand-building talents during an eight-year tenure as Vice President of Marketing for Hair Cuttery, helping grow the company from its early developmental stages into a household name. She led all strategic marketing functions that powered the expansion from 200 to 800 locations and into a $400+ million brand.
Why do you think we’re still talking about opportunities for women and how women are portrayed in advertising when it’s 2016?
While women occupy about half of all professional-level jobs, they lag far behind men in leadership positions. From the stats I’ve seen, women hold less than 5 percent of C-suite positions in Fortune 500 companies. And, a dismal 11 percent of creative directors are women in the ad industry, which suggests that the majority of marketing to women is still being done from a male POV.
Who better to market to our mothers, sisters and daughters from an aligned perspective than women? I also feel strongly that the businesses that advertise and the agencies that create the messages are equally responsible for the way women are portrayed in advertising. In my opinion, the best way to put these challenges to rest is by evening out the ranks of marketing and advertising senior positions, and at a faster rate. I’m confident in our ability to speedup progress, and there are plenty of excellent examples to be found—including our agency, with 40 women and 20 men, as well as executive leadership parity.
Do you think women, people of color, LGBTQ and people with disabilities face similar issues in the ad industry?
A recent Advertising Age story referencing Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that “of the 582,000 Americans employed in advertising and communications in 2014, less than half are women, 6.6 percent are black or African American, 5.7 percent are Asian and 10.5 percent are Hispanic.” That same article noted that “the country is diversifying at a pace never before seen in our history.”
It will take a diversified workforce to create authentic, culturally relevant communications for a diverse nation. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s smart business. I wish I could say the ad industry was more inclusive, but I haven’t seen proof of that yet—and we’re still celebrating “breakthrough” campaigns that portray the groups mentioned in the question when they should be more of the norm.
What advice would you give a 20-year-old woman on how to succeed in the advertising industry?
Understand how the industry is changing and develop a specialty that makes you unique and valuable and that’s also aligned with your personal passions. Always be prepared with solutions, ideas and your own unique position, and be willing to collaborate and leverage others’ ideas as well. Make friends at work and have fun. Seek out a mentor and become indispensable. Engage in the world and seek out different cultural experiences. Develop your own personal brand and key attributes.
Would you want your own daughter to pursue a career in advertising? If not, why not?
I would absolutely encourage anyone’s daughter to pursue a career in advertising if they are driven and passionate about creating compelling communication approaches in a digital- and social-driven world. At Crosby, our summer internship program strives to cultivate opportunities and build confidence for young communicators; and, in fact, several young women have returned as full-time employees after graduation. I review those resumes and I’m stoked about the emerging talent pool.
What did you do to survive and thrive in advertising?
I was always willing to do what others were not—dig deeper, stay later, talk to clients’ customers, travel, read more, volunteer for the last-minute opportunity—whatever it was, I did more of it. I also challenged myself with a move to the client side mid-stream in my career, managing as many as 20 people and four agencies. I developed a specialty niche in branding and hired the very best people, consultants and mentors possible. Advanced education became essential, so I jumped on opportunities offered to participate in executive-level coaching and leadership programs at the top business schools. I’m extremely grateful to all the women mentors I’ve had along the way—some of them amazing and some of them on the nasty side—but they all motivated me to keep moving forward.