Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Feminist talk around the advertising lunch table.

I am proud to say that the creative department I work in has many women. In fact I think it's a pretty even divide which is highly unusual in the Advertising world. Perhaps that's why our department is more collaborative than competitive. Perhaps the reason women stick around is because it's friendlier and less macho. As female Creatives we are on the front line of the fight for equality. We prove our worth in a male dominated world every day.

Recently a colleague of mine had a baby girl baby girl and returned to work. I feel that she has began our next big fight: for working conditions which allow us to be mothers as well as valued and sought after Creatives.

Sitting around our lunch table we discussed the ways in which a baby girl should be brought up in order to feel free from the limiting stereotypes that we had all faced in some degree. My colleague said that she was trying not to use the words "good girl" - words that enforced the gender in association with "worthiness". She was also trying not to dress her little girl in pink. Pink wasn't banned, but should be like any other colour.

I thought back to my Christmas shopping trip a couple of years ago in Hamleys where there was an entirely pink floor filled with dolls and a blue ones for boys full of dumper trucks and building blocks. I also thought of the way schools enforce gendered behaviour. Aged 8 I started a petition in my Primary school asking for girls to be allowed to play football. It resulted in a shouting at by the head dinner lady, a very scary lady. What hope did my friend have to keep her child free from the pressures of a labelling society? What hope was there when she would play with other children who's parents would kit them out in pink and blue and give their girls dolls and the boys trucks?

But apparently there are some children's brands who are thinking differently and seeking to challenge these stereotypes.

Princess Awesome make girls clothes in rainbow colours with patterns inspired by dinosaurs, maths and science. Their message is that you can be a Princess and a scientist when you're older. I mean, shouldn't a modern Princess have a job too? No Waity-Katie for these kick-arse girls!

Here are some of their inspirational and gender-rule-breaking pictures.


There are actually a whole host or fashion brands doing the gender neutral thing for adults - check out this article if you're interested.

Let Toys be Toys is a brilliant initiative which seems to be making some important ground in making toy shops organise their toys by theme rather than gender. Below you can see great two examples of the changes they have helped enact.

JUST BOYS? JUST GIRLS? WHY? Thank GOD these signs are gone. 

This last one is particularly lovely - having a girl's picture over the construction toys. Result!

The UK has a long way to go. But steps are being made in the right direction. Together we can help change the behaviours of brands by voting with our feet and writing to point out inequalities to companies. You only have to look at last year's Cannes entries to see the advertising world is trying too. "This Girl Can" and "Throw like a girl" are two great examples of female empowerment.

Together we can help my colleague's child, and all children, be exactly the person they want to be. Not what society tells them they must be.

So go on. Buy your baby girl a dinosaur and buy your little boy a doll if they want them. I leave you with this amazing father and son:

Friday, 6 November 2015

Tom Cruise, meet Tom Cruise. But mind out for Arnie!

Imagine a club where time is a fluid, allowing any famous person who had ever stepped inside to reside indefinitely in that moment. A place where Al Pacino could walk back in 10 years later and see himself 10 years younger. A club that acts as a time sticky paper. This is the illusion that this clever mashup creates - it's called Hell's Club.

Halloween done.

So this is how my Unicorn makeup ended up. I used big fake eyelashes that I bought at a screen makeup shop and a much better brand of hair spray which actually turned my hair white unlike before. I also stuck to gold and silver glitter since the glitter I ordered went missing. In the end I didn't need it anyway. 

At the Halloween party I actually discovered I was a novelty for people dressed up ghoulishly. Several people asked me if I would pose for pictures with them. It was like being a character at Disney land. As I was leaving the party a guy told me that I must be the winner of the most original costume. So yep. There we have it. 

Halloween 2015 done. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Unicorn does Halloween

The time is nigh for my annual Halloween costume post.

This year I am breaking all the rules and dressing as a Unicorn! Yes, America is rubbing off on me and I am taking their licence to go as something non-scary. In the last two years I've dressed as a black cat, a werewolf and a vampire so I've done my gothic duty.

I trialled this look last week at a drinks party and here is the result:

Makeup will change for the next outing. I have glitter in three colours - pink, gold and silver. I won't be using the green as it stands out too much

And here's my unicorn horn and ears. I created then by shaping tin foil and fastening it to a white headband. Then I wrapped the horn it in plastic tape and used the tape to fasten the ears and horn more securely to the headband. Then I used layers of kitchen roll to paper-mache over the top. Finally I painted it white and gold. I may add some glitter too. 

What I didn't realise is there is actually a whole Underground Unicorn movement. And it's actually led by an Art Director (of course it is). These unicorns are more professional than me(they actually believe that they ARE unicorns so, how can I compare to that) but I will be taking some tips from them on glitter and makeup. 

And of course this is a great excuse to re-watch Charlie the Unicorn. Classic. 


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An ode to Soho

I work, eat and drink in Soho and this video to celebrate the launch of London Fashion Week in Soho makes me very proud to be a part of one of the most vibrant areas in London.

Once Soho was full of crack dens and prozzies and the French.

Not much has changed.

That is apart from down Sex Alley which needs a new name as the police have shut down all the places of ill repute.

Gotta love it.

And props to World Poetry Slam Champion, Harry Baker. Nice script man. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Dark, gothic, detailed, beautiful.

I'm not sure why I always find gothic images so beautiful. The sadness, the hints of violence, sex and death, mixed with flowers and beautiful faces and skulls. Perhaps it was my rebellion against the prevailing culture of townies in Kappa and surfies in Billabong that divided Swansea when I was growing up. It seemed way cooler to be cynical and pronounce yourself a goth. Wear black and smudge your eyes in a vaguely teary sullen looking way.

I think that's why I looked through all the art on Big Active's rosters and was instantly drawn to the work of Russian born artist Vania Zouravliov.

Zouravliov was inspired by an impressive array of artistry including The Bible, Dante's Divine Comedy, Disney and North American Indians. It has even been said that his work is from the Devil.

Here are a few of the ones I find inspiring. I love the shapes of fabric, the partial over the top dress compared to naked limbs, the beautiful faces, the exoticism and the gothic OTT elements.

A little lighter but still richly detailed, imaginative and beautiful is the work of Klaus Haapaniemi. Finish born Haapaniemi was also influenced by Russia - in particular Russian animation. His work is vivid and fairytale-like often with backgrounds of black. 

I loved his store takeover for Isetan Interiors which was, I think, based on his beautiful book: 

I also love his gothic cover for Perfume, one of the most vivid and richly imagined books I've ever read.

 And this is one of his layout designs for Vogue magazine.

I love coming across the work of artists that make me want to create things myself. I feel inspired to write and illustrate a children's novel. Maybe do a big sexual gothic painting to shock people with. 

Just need to find the time!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Who wins my Cannes Lions?

Cannes is almost upon us and whilst some would argue the whole thing is an exercise in self-promotion and networking, it does provide us with the opportunity to stop and think about the last year of advertising. 

This year is an important one because it is the first time that Cannes will give a special award, the Glass Lion, to a memorable campaign around gender and women's empowerment. This is obviously a hot topic in the advertising world. You can't walk through the tube or watch an episode of X Factor without getting some kind of positive girl power endorsement. I'm not complaining of course. I work in an industry where you constantly see sexism. Many a time I've seen campaigns where all the men featured were doctors, business men and architects and the women featured were mothers, cooks and nurses. So honestly, when I see an ad where a women is boxing or running a board room I cheer. 

My bet for the winner of the Glass Lion is on the "#LikeAGirl" campaign for Always by Leo Burnett, Toronto, Chicago and London. It challenges people's use of the phrase "like a girl" turning the phrase into an expression of strength. Yeh let's fight like a girl and win like a girl! A mantra for us ladies still fighting the good fight in male led agencies. 

And it's not just attitudes towards women that's receiving the attention of advertising and brands. Other entries tackle Nazi's in Germany, poverty and hunger and racial prejudices. 

AMV BBDO, London's brilliant advert for Guinness, "Made Of Black" redefined the meaning of being black, claiming it isn't a skin colour but a strong, powerful and vibrant attitude. The use of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" created a powerful music video type piece that I just love. 

Others tackle local issues by using their products in a helpful way, like Samsung's "The Safety Truck" by Leo Burnett, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Argentina has a large number of single lane roads and many fatalities are caused by people trying to overtake large vehicles whilst unable to see the road ahead. Samsung fitted their screens to the back of their lorries which gave drivers behind a live feed of the road ahead. Who knows how many lives this creative idea could save. This surely is creativity put to the best use.