Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018, Joanna Young

Interview with Joanna Young

Joanna Young
Management Director Team One

Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018

Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
I’m the Management Director of Strategy at Team One, Publicis Groupe's fully integrated advertising, digital and media agency, and I oversee a roster of our global and premium clients. I also lead our thought leadership initiative, The Global Affluent Tribe™, which seeks to uncover the motivations and desires of aspirational and affluent consumers around the world. We conduct ethnographies and semiotics studies, as well as manage one of the largest quantitative panels on affluents, with over 5,000 people across 15 countries.

I’m also a mother to two human babies: Calinda, who is two and a half, and Felix, who is 6 months old. And one fur baby, Ketchup, who is a grumpy 12 years young.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
I did a lot of tutoring to pay for college. If you think about it, tutoring is basically telling and retelling the same thing to somebody in different ways, until you find the one way that gets them to understand. Which is a lot like advertising. It taught me about the importance of message, medium and connection with the mindset of your audience.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
At Team One, we recently started a conversation about pay equality through VivaWomen!, Publicis Groupe’s business resource group for women and their allies. It brought up a lot of interesting perspectives on the definition of fair compensation, when and why one should ask for a raise, and the significance and meaning of getting promoted. The only thing that was consistent was how different viewpoints could be, depending on someone’s gender, age group, life stage or a multitude of other factors.

I believe that we’ve only just begun to chip away at the glass ceiling.

The 3% Conference pointed out to the world how profound an issue this is. It’s crazy to think that only 1 in every 33 creative directors are women. And yet, it’s women who make the majority of household purchase decisions worldwide. And 9 in 10 women, according to Yankelovich Monitor, feel that advertisers don’t understand them.

These are very big gaps that we need to address.
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?
The coolest thing about these campaigns is that they come from an authentic truth rather than, let’s call it, pinkwashing. “Like a Girl” puts a spotlight on stereotypes that we have unconsciously embraced, without even realizing that we were doing so. “Fearless Girl” represents an investment company that has products, a philosophy and commitment to supporting women.

I like seeing new offerings, like Sallie Krawcheck’s company, Ellevest, which creates financial solutions specifically for women by uniquely recognizing that women’s lives are different. Women statistically live longer, many of us take professional pauses to have babies, etc, and conventional financial products don’t take these things into account. I’d never even thought about that, until I read an article about this company.

The more campaigns and products and innovations there are, the better we can interrogate and investigate the problem from different angles, and really start doing something about it.
How have the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements played out in the advertising sector? Are they making a significant impact?
I think it’s great that we have started to bring the issues out to light, because we’ve gotten a glimmer of insight on the complexities of what we are up against. It’s not just about sexual harassment. Or the pay discrepancy. Or the opportunity gap. It’s all of these things and more.

It’s naïve to say we can fix one part without getting tangled up in the rest. But at least we’re starting to grasp the realities. You can’t solve a problem without identifying what it is first.
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?
I believe the biggest problem we have is actually in the retention of talented, smart women as they progress in their careers. A good friend who is very senior at another agency recently noted that she was only woman on their management team who was married and had a child. Across the industry, we need more role models like her, in positions like hers. We need more flexibility. We need new and out-of-box solutions to the age-old problems. We need more and different opportunities.

Anne-Marie Slaughter says that it’s not enough for a company to have family-friendly policies. The real question is, how many employees actually take advantage of family-friendly policies, how many men do so, and how many advance to top positions while doing so.

As an industry and a culture, we – both women and men – need to come together and reset expectations on how we behave, how we work, how we grow.
Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
My first boss in advertising was a fierce and brilliant woman. She taught me the importance of always pushing to make the creative idea better; the need to stay true to myself, no matter what; and the power of an unexpected joke shared at the right time and place.

My husband is my sternest coach, my biggest advocate and a true ally. He teaches me every day that equality in a relationship is about fully supporting each other; not about making sure you do half the chores. Last week, I was trying to figure out how to take my 6-month-old son on a business trip, so that my husband could take a break from having to watch both kids yet again while I was out of town. He stopped me and said, “Do you think it would have ever occurred to a MAN in your position to take one of his children on a business trip?”
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?
My advice is: don’t passively accept the status quo. Put into words what you want – in your career, in your life – and then be the protagonist in making it happen. Write your ideal job description first, and then find the position that best matches it. Figure out what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not. You can’t expect things to change without playing an active part in that change. In advertising, we are in the business of building creative solutions. I have confidence that if anyone can figure this out, we can.

Joanna Young
Management Director Team One