Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018, Misi McClelland

"This has been an amazing year in this area and monumental changes are happening because women have come together, supported one another, have spoken out and have been heard."

Misi McClelland
Senior Vice President Ignite Social Media

Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018

Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
I’m Misi McClelland, Senior Vice President at Ignite Social Media where I oversee paid media, content development, community management and analytics.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
Well, if having sisters counts as a job, yes I did! I learned that we all have different opinions, and that even if you share the same genes, you can be worlds apart. I learned not to meddle in other people’s business and that gossip does more harm than good. I also learned that having someone’s back is what matters most in the end and the grass isn’t always greener. You think the oldest gets to be bossy, the middle is independent and the youngest gets spoiled. But each child ranking has its respective pros and cons.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
Probably just maintaining a good work/life balance as it’s a tough balance to get right in the first place, but as demands grow, it gets increasingly complicated. It also seems that many of the things that make women who they often are--emotional, caring, nurturing--are frowned upon and looked more like “soft skills” when in many cases they are actually tied to emotional intelligence, which is often a better indication of success as opposed to things like a straight up IQ.

In terms of business, there are still some areas where women aren’t as prominent. I’ve played most of my role in the media world which is filled with lots of female talent. But I don’t see that as much in some other areas of the business like top management jobs and, in particular, top creative roles.
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 think these types of campaigns absolutely change attitudes. Young women need to feel supported. They need to be reminded how strong they are and they need to know that perfection isn’t a real thing. I remember being bombarded by images of perfect girls in my teens, and it’s exhausting. Overall, I think these campaigns remind everyone that women are an equal force in the workplace.
How have the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements played out in the advertising sector? Are they making a significant impact?
I distinctly remember what my Facebook news feed looked like after the start of the #MeToo movement. These movements show the sheer volume of women that have been impacted by sexual harassment. There is power in numbers and these campaigns really encouraged women to speak up. Male figures guilty of sexual misconduct in the workplace, who once seemed untouchable, are losing more than just their jobs. This has been an amazing year in this area and monumental changes are happening because women have come together, supported one another, have spoken out and have been heard.
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?
More networking and mentoring opportunities for women. It’s hard to know where to start and it’s so important to hear other women tell their stories on challenges they’ve faced, how they overcame them, what they’ve learned along the way, and what they would have done differently.
Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
Marcie Brogan. I’ve never met another woman quite like her. I remember being an intern at her agency and I had a project to organize all of her new business materials. It was all paper back then, we had computers but digital storage wasn’t a thing yet. I spent so much time laying out my plan to get things in order including using my inkjet printer to create color-coded spines for binders. Once completed, a letter showed up on my desk. It was from Marcie and addressed to my mom! It let her know what a great employee I was and how well she raised me. I still have it. Despite how busy she was, Marcia always took the time to make you feel special. That was just one amazing quality. She also did all she could to shatter the glass ceiling. She was instrumental in making women a strong force in the business and advertising world in Detroit, and did so with wit and grace and truly served as a role model to many of my agency friends.
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?
I plan to pass along what was given to me from the women before me. One of the most important things I teach and watch out for is balance. I want young females entering the workforce to learn how to balance their lives so they have time to decompress.

Here’s the advice I’d give. Some given to me and some things I learned along the way:
Be fair to yourself. Be sure you are compensated for the work that you put in. Don’t carry a chip on your shoulder. Free yourself from it and you’ll be lighter in many aspects of your life. Stay balanced. Be sure you are not only taking care of your work life but your personal life, too. Always grow. This industry is always changing. Don’t get stuck in your ways but rather embrace the change. Learn from those before you and those behind you. We all can benefit from shared knowledge. Let’s respect where others have been and where things might be headed.
Misi McClelland
Senior Vice President Ignite Social Media