Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018, Cinzia Crociani

"But we're still only scratching the surface, and we need to make sure that after these big statements, real and permanent change actually follows. The industry must change its attitude towards women, but women must change their attitudes toward themselves, as well."

Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018

Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
The main thing I would say about myself is that I'm resilient. I am Italian and began my career in Italy before deciding to work abroad to give my resume a unique edge. I challenged myself by moving to Asia-a place far from home, with a totally different culture. While I benefited a lot from being there, both from a personal and professional standpoint, it wasn't easy. The work hours were endless and the agency culture wasn't always the best. Once, I was told that other expat wives' hobby was crochet, while my hobby was being an art director. But I never gave up. I'm resilient, and stubborn, and crochet bores me to death. Today, I'm the SVP Creative Director at Energy BBDO in Chicago, and I love to dedicate part of my time to helping other women thrive and grow in any way I can.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
I would say that more than a job, it was a sport. I used to be a long-distance runner. It taught me to be resilient in the face of stress, pain, or boredom, and to never compare myself to others. The race was always to improve my best time, not to win. I think that being a female creative in advertising has been a lot like that. At times my male colleagues have been given better opportunities or promoted before me, but I never compare myself to them. I keep on working hard, mastering my will and my craft, and slowly but surely, I've achieved the same level of success as many of them.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
There is certainly a shift happening within the industry. Women in positions of power are advocating for and empowering other women and looking to help uplift them as they ascend to leadership roles. This is creating a virtuous cycle that will hopefully help make the industry more equal.
From Like A Girl to Fearless Girl, a raft of advertising campaigns have set out to empower women. How do you feel about these campaigns? Can they change attitudes within the industry?
I love those campaigns, I think they help to shake the world awake. But we're still only scratching the surface, and we need to make sure that after these big statements, real and permanent change actually follows. The industry must change its attitude towards women, but women must change their attitudes toward themselves, as well.
We're born into a society that has ingrained in our heads this idea that women are less. I know many young, talented creative women who are more insecure than their male peers. I know older females in our industry who lend more credence to men's opinions than women's. And although I try my best, sometimes even I'm guilty of it too. It's a daily fight against ourselves as well, and we need to win it.
How have the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements played out in the advertising sector? Are they making a significant impact?
I would say that #MeToo and #TimesUp are finally bringing to light what was rotten, and they're making everyone more aware of real injustices. But I don't like hearing that agencies are overcompensating by promoting or hiring only women. The #MeToo and #TimesUp cases are the proof that we we're not playing with the same set of rules. We all want an equal playing field, but before we get there, we first need to fill the existing gap of unfairness and give women the opportunity to change the rules from inside the industry.
Initiatives such as Free The Bid are trying to create more opportunities for women in advertising. But what could be done at a more grass roots level to attract women in the first place?
Throughout my career, I was encouraged by seeing examples of powerful women at the top. I think successful women who are in positions to create opportunities need to step up, but we can't do it alone. We need the help of the good men around us too. They should fearlessly join the conversation (some are already doing it), and ask questions to try to understand more and discover the benefits of hiring more women in their businesses. We need them to fight by our side.
Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
I never had a female mentor, but I was fortunate enough to work for a great CCO in Singapore who helped me grow and who taught me the importance of being a good person before being a good Creative Director. He told me to make sure to credit the people who work with me, because they were the ones pushing me up. He told me not to be scared of being wrong, because people would respect me more for being honest. He told me to be proud of being a woman because of the unique sensitivity it gives me. And despite me being a working mother, he was able to acknowledge me for my talent and promote me multiple times, really helping to shape my career.
How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women? In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?
The one trait I would like to instill in all of the young women I see entering my agency is a big dose of self-confidence. And by that I don't mean to be arrogant, to feel entitled, or pretend to know it all. I mean to be eager, to learn and show your skills without the fear of being wrong or saying stupid things. Present your work with confidence and trust your instincts. I see some women losing great opportunities or learning at a slower pace because of their fears. Sometimes I need to encourage myself to be fearless too.