The Ad Club Blog

The Official Blog of The Ad Club



The Ad Club hosts a CMO Breakfast Series that I love when I have the opportunity to attend. Who doesn’t love brunch? Who doesn’t love inspiration? And who doesn’t love talking about creativity in branding?

Brian Beitler, EVP and Chief Marketing and Brand Development Officer at J.Jill, opened with a story from his little league days. His mom was the loudest in the stands as she cheered for both teams. Brian was a pitcher at the time and whenever he would strike someone out she would shout, “Way to go, Brian.” And then immediately turn to the batter and tell them, “You’ll get him next time!” The next time the batter from the opposing team got a great hit, she would cheer and shout, “Great hit! You’ll get him next time, Brian.” She cheered for success. I was hooked. I related to Brian’s mom and that story. I. Am. Brian’s. Mom. Not literally. As a longtime fastpitch softball player (now retired to slowpitch games) I often get chided by friends (particularly while watching Red Sox games) for cheering for both teams. It’s the incredible, skillful play that causes me to inadvertently let “Nice hit! Nice catch! Nice play!” slip from my lips often to the disapproving glances from friends. I just love when someone plays the game well.

Beitler was getting at that same point when it came to branding and marketing. Instead of committing to being different, commit to looking at what’s best for your customer base, even if that means taking what your competition has already done and doing it better. Commit to having conversations with your customers and listening, because they might just have the secrets to success you are looking for.


Oh my very goodness, I love Kohl’s. I am a Kohl’s shopper. I love all things Kohl’s, especially the deals. Give me a good deal and I am there with my sister and mom (experts in bargain shopping and where I learned all that I know) in tow and our shopping game faces on. One thing I noticed with all of Beitler’s roles was that he made it a point to visit the brick-and-mortar stores in person and understand the experience in that store. He uncovered many a marketing gem this way. While waiting in line at Kohl’s, Beitler struck up a conversation with a lady who was so ecstatic on saving “more than she had spent.” Upon further conversation, the woman told him that she was really good at math and that she had saved $200. Taking this insight back to his teams and embracing this saver-type culture, Kohl’s set out to update the receipts to reflect the amount saved at the bottom and circle it in red ink. It was a hit.

Lane Bryant

At Lane Bryant, Beitler did several focus groups and dug through the research to understand his new customer base. At one of the focus groups, Beitler became frustrated as they were not uncovering or digging deep enough into understanding the ladies they were looking to reach with the Lane Bryant brand. He asked one woman what mattered to her, and what he kept hearing was that she just wanted to be seen and not ignored. This discovery led to the #ImNoAngel campaign, where plus-sized models donned Lane Bryant apparel and embraced their curves in a sassy, sexy, sensual ad with a Victoria’s Secret feel. It was a hit, and later led to a model from that campaign to the cover of Sports Illustrated. Because Beitler listened to his customer base, he’s been able to spot the gold that resonates with the audiences he is aiming to reach.

David’s Bridal

During his role at David’s Bridal, Beitler visited a nearby, high-performing store to see what caused it to be so special. At the store, a bride rushed in in her nurse’s scrubs and announced to the team she had 30 minutes to find a dress. The employees went to work, set her up with a room and sure enough she walked out of the fitting room with the dress. The manager of David’s Bridal was overjoyed and rushed to bring the bride-to-be a bell. She told her that it was tradition for all the brides to ring the bell. At first the rushed bride refused, but the store manager insisted. The bride acquiesced and the store manager told her to close her eyes and picture the life that she was going to share with her soon-to-be husband and then to ring the bell. The bride and all those around her began to tear up. On a Saturday, when the store is hustling and bustling with brides, it’s just magic. The store manager had found a way to “shine the light” on one customer and bring a boutique feel to a large store. I love that description of shining a light on one person, one item, one thing that makes someone feel heard, connected, and special. Imagine if we all did this in our every day lives or if every brand attempted to do this for their customers.

Beitler gave shout-outs to mission-inspired companies like Tom’s and creative, hipster companies like Warby Parker, a couple of my favorite brands as well. Through ads that spoke to their customer base with a brand personality, and through simple imagery and copy, they were able to paint a picture of all that the brand stood for and at the same time connect with the audiences that they cared about reaching. They were building a brand that was relatable to their audiences. In each of his companies, Beitler brought to life the things that his customers cared the most about and tied it to the brand in a genuine, authentic way. He genuinely listened to what his customers were saying.

He is doing this currently at J.Jill. By talking with his audiences he’s understanding his J.Jill customers are accomplished ladies who don’t need their clothes to be complicated. He’s translating this in J.Jill’s branding.

Building relationships and having conversations with your audience is important to discover the qualities that make your brand special to your customers and to learn how to embrace that quality for the success of everyone. Go Brian! You’ll get ’em next time.


Digging in to your brand and your customer stories and what they love most and value most about your brand is at the heart of it.

Stay curious and ask questions in and out of the office.

Combine analytics with first-party research to inform your marketing.

Partner with brands you trust like Food Network and Oprah Magazine.

Love all sorts of success, especially when anyone plays the game well.

You can find me at Kohl’s.

Creating Shoppable Moments for Consumers This Holiday Season

Written by Sarah Martinez, VP and Industry Lead, Retail & QSR of Oath.

As summer ends and the kids head back-to-school, marketers are turning their attention to the all-important holiday shopping season. The opportunity for retailers this year is massive; the NRF recently adjusted its 2018 retail sales outlook with spending predicted to climb at least 4.5%, rather than the original forecast of 3.8% – 4.4%. This is great news for retailers, and marketers are smart to begin building their holiday strategies now. But the retail space is also going through a lot of disruption, and the landscape is changing to reflect big shifts in consumer behavior.

[Last week] at The Boston Ad Club’s The New Retail Reality event, I spoke with Macy’s Karthik Vish, VP of Search Marketing, about this exact topic. Among the topics discussed, mobile, innovative ad formats, and smart data emerged as three core themes for marketers to focus on this holiday season.


‘Tis the Season to be Mobile

Consumers are on their smartphones more than ever before. A recent Oath study found 69% of people spend at least one hour on their phones every day, and 40% spend at least two hours every day; this amount climbs among younger audiences, with many consumers spending over five hours a day on their phones. So it’s natural that the way people shop is evolving, too. Forty percent of retail ecommerce sales will be transacted on mobile devices this year, presenting a big opportunity for marketers to lead shoppers seamlessly through the purchase funnel.

We recently partnered with Macy’s on a mobile campaign focused on making shopping easier by allowing customers to store a coupon in their mobile phone, and receive time and location-based reminders on their device’s home screen. We also worked with Macy’s to pilot Mobile Moments, which allows users to interact with a full-screen creative format, without interrupting the user experience. These innovations brought what was traditionally a direct mail and paper-based coupon into a digital sphere, improving customer engagement and relevance, and driving more people into a nearby store.


3D Holidays

New advertising tools like AR, 3D and programmatic VR are helping brands deliver the best possible experience for consumers across devices. They provide an enhanced experience that deepens the brand connection, and provides a level of utility that mobile users have come to expect. And, nearly 75% of consumers already expect retailers to offer a mobile AR experience. How can brands take advantage of these new tools?

We’ve been testing these ad formats with some of the world’s leading brands, including The Home Depot and Pottery Barn, and are seeing incredible traction and positive performance. Last holiday season, The Home Depot was looking to get customers excited about its selection of holiday decor and drive shoppers to the website. Through AR ad units within the Yahoo Mail mobile app, consumers could view what a Christmas tree with its decorations from Home Depot would look like in their own home. The experience was a huge win: recipients spent an average of over two minutes interacting with the AR ad, and the campaign saw a 12.5% CTR from the ad to the landing page.

We also partnered with Pottery Barn to test an AR ad within Yahoo Mail that allowed people to virtually place different pieces of furniture throughout the room of their choice. Shoppers could see how a Pottery Barn lamp would appear in their living room, before even making their purchase. These innovative advertising tools provide an engaging and personalized experience, and give mobile shoppers the utility they’ve come to expect.


Don’t Discount Data

It’s key for marketers to invest in data to power these creative experiences, and ensure an impactful moment with the right audience. After all, personalization matters more than ever: 64% of consumers say they expect relevant advertising on mobile, so good creative will only get you so far. Rich data signals can help retailers understand shopper patterns and behaviors, analyze that information across channels and ultimately personalize the shopper’s experience. This level of personalization will help get marketers to the finish line and lead to meaningful brand interactions and purchase consideration. According to Deloitte, 44% of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a particular company.

The 2017 holiday shopping season was a monumental win, with sales showing the strongest gain since 2011. All eyes will be on 2018 and where consumer spending will net out. Immersive and innovative digital ad experiences across mobile, leveraging new technologies and data, should be a key part of retail marketers’ campaigns to win the shoppable moment.

“Huge reward, no risk”: What Brandathon has meant for Mugatunes

Last year, music-sharing site Mugatunes got paired with agency Viewpoint Creative in the 2nd Annual Brandathon. The agency went on to take home 1st place bragging rights and a cash prize, and Mugatunes got a full re-brand. You can watch Viewpoint Creative’s full brand pitch here.

Brandathon 2016 is now accepting entries. So we sat down with Drew Meagher, founder of the college-focused site that’s out to ban “shitty music”, to find out how post-Brandathon life is treating the young company.


Can you give us a brief history of Mugatunes?

So we were founded at Trinity College. Last year we were a part of Brandathon, which was huge for us. Now we’re still going very strong. We’re on almost 100 campuses. We’ve really grown a lot there. We have over 200 contributors. We’re about to have a brand new website. We’re about to get funded, hopefully, this summer.


What was your experience with Brandathon like?

We actually found it just totally coincidentally…. We were like, “Wow, this looks like something we have a really good shot of winning.” It was an incredible experience, for us as young entrepreneurs, to just, experience our first real taste of the industry, and startup world. Then, obviously, what Viewpoint came up with was unreal; we still use their branding. We had a pitch in Canada the other day, and we used all their stuff.

One of the best prizes for us was the three months of office space in [IdeaSpace], which we took advantage of in the fall. Again, as young entrepreneurs, actually having a conference room to bring clients into, and do that kind of stuff, is great for us. It was an unbelievable opportunity.


How did having this new brand identity change Mugatunes?

The work they did for us was very legitimizing, because of how professional it was. The logos, the videos, the marketing materials they put together for us, really took us from a college startup, to people taking us seriously. We really tried to utilize all of the content they gave us. Like I said, I think when we first applied Brandathon, we were at about 25-30 campuses, and now we’re almost at 100. We’ve really grown a lot.


What would you say to a startup who was thinking about entering Brandathon, but wasn’t sure if it was worth it?

I think that first of all, you have nothing to lose…It’s really not a startup competition, it’s a branding competition. We just kind of got to sit there and let them do all the work, and reap the benefits. There’s really no downside. Huge reward, no risk, and again if you’re a young company, just get your foot in the door.

The amount of connections we’ve made just from the original first meetings, we met people, and obviously, now this is the fourth or fifth thing we’ve done with you guys. It really is just an unbelievable opportunity, especially in Boston with The Ad Club. You guys have so many connections… I would definitely say that any startup that thinks they have shot, absolutely go for it. You have nothing to lose.


So when they started pitching, you were in the audience, and you actually hadn’t seen any of it yet…

It was unreal. We were dying laughing, first of all. It was hysterical. We couldn’t believe that they had done all that in 72 hours. I think that was the biggest thing, the amount of creativity too.

Their campaign was to stop spreading shitty music on campuses, like it’s an actual epidemic. It was so smart, so funny, and everything, like I said was so well done. We almost couldn’t believe that this was our company that they were doing this with. We were very nervous too, but it was just so cool to watch what they’d done in front of us, with our baby. It was really cool.


What was your reaction to seeing it that first time?

Oh man I don’t even know. We were very excited… I know that Kathy [Kiely, President of The Ad Club] has a funny story about what she saw my partner say when he first celebrated. We went pretty crazy… I’ll leave it at that.

I know they were really proud, and we were really proud of them too, just very grateful for everything they did for us.


Do you still keep in touch with your agency, Viewpoint Creative, at all?

Yeah, we send them a lot of our important creative things, just to get their feedback. We had a pitch in Toronto a few weeks ago for this startup competition. We sent them our whole investor portfolio. We said, “Will you take a look at it?”

They’ve been really great mentors for us. We follow along with what they’re up to, and do our best to share their cool stuff too. We definitely, hopefully, have a lifelong relationship with them, thanks to you guys. It’s very cool.


What did Brandathon mean for you as founders and for Mugatunes, as a business in such its early stages?

It really was just invaluable for us. I think for a lot of us too, we had just graduated college and weren’t totally sure. This was such a leap of faith for us, to try and make this our job. When Brandathon happened, we were finally like, “All right, now we’ve got something to work with.” It was a launch pad for us, honestly. We are the most grateful, and would recommend the program/competition, anything with The Ad Club to any companies that are interested.


Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Listen to Mugatunes. That’s the other thing.

Look Inside First

This blog first appeared on Written by Amy Weber, Director of Business Development. 

“If you don’t bring a brand to life on the inside, it won’t survive on the outside.” – Libby Sartain

As the media marketplace has gotten more and more fragmented and consumers are harder to reach than ever, it’s easy for brands to focus entirely on their target consumer, while forgetting about other key constituents. What many forget is that often times, a key component of marketing a brand these days may be right under your nose. Following-up on our post looking at the importance of Wegmans employee actions, we are now looking at the importance of your internal team and how they can provide the key insight that you are looking for.

The impetus for this post came after I attended an Ad Club CMO Breakfast featuring the dressbarn Vice President of Marketing, Stephanie Garbarini. I was excited by the opportunity to take a morning away from the office and learn about fashion marketing, especially after their groundbreaking campaign last fall. Their out-of-home board in Downtown Crossing station literally stopped me in my tracks on my commute one evening. Not surprisingly, Stephanie did not disappoint.

Facing a retail landscape that was changing just as quickly as the marketing industry is, Stephanie spoke about how dressbarn wanted to return to their roots as a way to stand out from the new competition. Those roots led directly to their founder, Mrs. Jaffee, a woman who seems to possess equal parts innovation, tenacity, compassion and spitfire. Which, of course, made me wish that she was my Grandmother! What I also learned is that the team at dressbarn took a look back and discovered that she was onto something 51 years ago when she founded the organization. When auditing their internal audience, they had a strong company culture with many employees who had been with the organization for 30+ of those 51 years. There is a culture and personality among those who have dedicated their life to this company that needed to be harnessed to usher in the next generation of dressbarn consumers.

Armed with that perspective as a filter, dressbarn set out to change category perceptions among key influencers in the fashion space. Knowing they had to make a splash, they developed a campaign that was unapologetically proud. A characteristic that rang true across store clerks, managers and the leadership team. And because it was true to the internal brand, it made quite the splash with external constituents, leading to social influencers as noteworthy as Chrissy Teigen to feel inclined to start a discussion around dressbarn. As they move forward, dressbarn has already announced their next partnership with model and body activist, Ashley Graham and I, personally, am already on the lookout for their spring campaign.

So, what did I learn from my morning with dressbarn other than validating how well their marketing team is doing right now? While going through the effort of refreshing their brand, the best thing that dressbarn did was to start by looking internally. Yes, their work was unexpected and stood out for the category. But, no matter how edgy the work, if it hadn’t been genuine to their brand heritage and to their employees who live the company culture everyday, it wouldn’t sustain and ultimately drive their current and future business. So, when looking for the next big thing to help your brand standout, don’t forget to look inside, because the answer may be closer than you think.


#ShareYourStory – A Reflection on the 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum

“I’m a mess.” Reshma Saujina, founder of Girls Who Code informed the audience. Preach, Reshma, I thought to myself. “Be a mess,” she continues, “be authentic”.

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum was an inspirational and special day filled with wise words, sage advice and incredible stories. And it were the stories that most resonated with me. Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, shared moments of her days spent visiting classrooms and reading stories to young children. The McBride sisters, creators of exquisite and delicious wine, have scaled the steep hill of California Street in San Francisco carrying cases of wine – while wearing stilettos. Reshma Saujina perhaps one of the most poised and eloquent speakers I have had the privilege of listening to, is a mess.

Kelly Carlin, writer, actress, and performer, encouraged the 1,100 female dominated audience to share their stories’. Carlin challenged the audience to listen to the voice inside of us and to find our own story – for it is within our story that we discover self-awareness and our own inner truth.

Stories shared at the Forum were filled with humor, sentiment and, of course, failure. “Just because I failed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try too,” Saujina expressed. Failing is an integral part of the journey – it reflects an effort made or a risk taken. Every time I fail I grow in another capacity. This growth is what brings me closer to attaining goals and to deepening my own story.

Our stories continue to evolve. As I was swept in awe and inspiration at the Women’s Leadership Forum, I also felt a great deal of reassurance and comfort in knowing that being a mess is just fine.


This story first appeared on Written by Clare Durkin, Shopper Digital Specialist at AMP Agency

A Chat with Bill Concannon, Cofounder of Pilot

In my role as President of The Ad Club, I’m lucky enough to meet some incredibly amazing and talented people. Recently, I reconnected with Bill Concannon, the cofounder of Pilot. Pilot is a brand consulting company that focuses on asset development for brands, intellectual properties, and consumer products. Bill and his team have created branding for the likes of Transformers, Angry Orchard, and Nike.

Most recently, Pilot was given the not-so-easy task of branding toys for the new Star Wars film. I sat down with Bill to hear about the steps that were taken to achieve success, how their marketing strategies were implemented, and learn about the future of Pilot.

KK: When you talk about storytelling, “Star Wars” is the ultimate brand to work on. But talk to me a little bit about another brand or some of the other brands where your method of storytelling has been effective.

BC: It’s important that you think about those new products, where there is no existing story and you have to develop that story. So projects like Angry Orchard, the adult cider, seeing it first as a packaging project but also creating that story of that orchard first so that everyone on our team could get into that head space and start thinking about characters that live within the Angry Orchard. It’s a great driver for graphics and illustration.

KK: When I look at “Star Wars,” I think of huge millennial audience, and a huge audience, period. But some of your brands like Angry Orchard and with Nike, you seem to be heading down a really nice path targeting and marketing to millennials. Do you see that as something you’ll focus on in the future and something you’ll make as part of your mission?

BC: Yeah, I think the good fortune for us is our method of storytelling leads to authentic brand expressions and authentic expressions in art. And I think that with the millennials, authenticity is at the forefront of what they care about. Consumers see that authenticity. You didn’t make it about yourself. You made it about the product.

KK: So what’s next for Pilot?

BC: The moon. We are just now hitting our stride and realizing that the storytelling method that we started has uses beyond just creating great art.

KK: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for sitting with me today.

BC: It’s truly been a pleasure

To see the entire interview with Bill Concannon of Pilot check out the Big Orange Couch. The Big Orange Couch is an ongoing series from The Ad Club where Kathy Kiely, President of The Ad Club, invites thought leaders and senior brand executives from across the country to sit with her and share their thoughts on the latest trends and innovations in business today, as well as personal stories on how they make it to the top of the corporate ladder. The Big Orange Couch features interviews with some of the top movers and shakers in marketing, branding, and beyond.

Why I’m Still Thinking About the Women’s Leadership Forum Two Weeks Later

I’m still thinking about the Women’s Leadership Forum for a number of reasons, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Wondering why? Great, because I’m here to tell you. Yes, you—whatever gender you are or identify with—because what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is not only for women to hear, relate to, or act on.

I could write pages and pages about all of what I took away from the Forum and what each of those things mean, but ain’t nobody got time for that, not even me. So, I’m going to focus on the concept that I’ve come to realize has penetrated my daily thoughts ever since that empowering Tuesday afternoon at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Unleash your unapologetic tenacity. –The McBride Sisters, Co-Founders of Truvée Wines

The McBride Sister’s notion of being “unapologetically tenacious,” infused with the teachings each and every one of the Forum’s speakers shared, has shaped the way I actively think about myself as a woman, and as a woman in business. You may be wondering what the context of “unapologetic tenacity” is, or what exactly that means, so let me sum it up with another McBride Sisters quote: “If a big old fart gets in your way, go around him, blaze your own trail, and then come back with proof [that you were right].”

In other words it means never starting your sentences in a meeting with “I’m sorry—I could be wrong—but—and we don’t have to do this—but…” and ending them with “does that make sense?” It means never obstructing a great idea from escaping the confines of your own thoughts for fear of being dismissed. It means exploring your ideas, seeing them through, and refusing to relinquish your determination in the face of rejection, because as a woman you will experience a lot of it.

As a society we have been socialized to believe that women have less to offer than men—that they are less than—and so of course we, as women, start our sentences that way and of course we don’t always share our ideas, even when we know that they’re kickass. But a pledge to unapologetic tenacity is a rejection of that socially constructed norm, a recognition that we too have every right to be unapologetically tenacious, and a stride towards breaking the cycle of socialization. Since recognizing a desire in myself to make a commitment to being unapologetically tenacious two Tuesdays ago, I’ve realized how excessively and needlessly apologetic I actually am. I’ve also realized how excessively apologetic my female co-workers, friends, and family members are, too. Amy Poehler once said “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” I’m ready to unlearn, starting with myself, and then working towards influencing change in others.

These past two weeks, I’ve actively worked on changing the way that I outwardly communicate, whether it’s the manner in which I verbally share my ideas or the words I choose to write my emails. I try to avoid the “I could be wrong, but” introduction to an idea. I now actively think to delete the “sorrys” in my emails when they are not needed and keep the word “just” out of my vocabulary altogether because, no, I am NOT “just checking in to see if you’ve had the chance to blah blah,” I AM (definitively) checking in. Almost more importantly, I’m actively working on changing the way I inwardly communicate with myself. Changing “don’t say that because there’s a chance you’re wrong” to “be confident in the larger chance that you’re right and know that the smaller chance that you’re wrong won’t kill you; it’s okay to be wrong sometimes,” which leads me to my next point, so eloquently and succinctly expressed by Reshma Saujani as she closed out the Forum:

We’ve socialized our girls to be perfect, and we’ve socialized our boys to be brave. –Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO of Girls Who Code

As I’ve proved, there is something unacceptably damaging about that truth, which should stir in us a desire to change it. This is the part of the post where I make good on the promise I made in my introduction, claiming that what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is important for everyone. This is where I ask our men to let our women be unapologetically tenacious—not at all in the sense of permission, but rather in the spirit of respect where respect is due. I ask our women to commit to it. And I ask us all to encourage our young girls to commit to it as much as we encourage our young boys to already. I promise that the world will be better for it.

Your turn.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts—agree? Disagree? Let’s talk about it. As I’ve learned, it’s okay to be wrong.


This blog first appeared on . Written by Alyssa McBryar, Associate Account Executive at AMP Agency.

Key Lessons from the Ad Club’s 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum organized by the Ad Club could be summed up by its hashtag: No Filter. 1,100 women gathered together to listen to empowering speakers discuss how they paved their way to success in male-dominated fields and got “shit done”. It was a forum to reflect on the challenges that we face as career women as well as a platform to discuss the implications of a cultural landscape that has been shaped by men and, thus, caters to men. It was an event to inspire women to act now— to run for office, to learn how to code, to speak up in general— because with men outnumbering women in the boardrooms, in tech, and in the government, the decisions that will shape our futures and the next generation’s futures will not be reflective of the other half of the population unless women support one another and rise to the occasion.

Below are three takeaways from the event in addition to insights that I’ve uncovered based on my own experiences as a woman pursuing a career in advertising. These are lessons we, as both businessmen and businesswomen, should begin to implement in our own workspace, so that we may (1) live with no filter and (2) get shit done.

1. Not just hoping for – but demanding a seat at the table.

“As women, as leaders, we need to start telling it like it is.” – Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General

“The world does not need another quiet, complicit daughter.”- Kelly Carlin, Performer / Storyteller

One of the challenges that was most often addressed during the forum was how women are pressured to conform to gender roles and expectations. Whether it was Sasha Digiulian being condescended by male climbers who told her that “little girls don’t climb the Eiger” or Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, being doubted by her peers even though she was more qualified than her male rival, women in business are subjected to the kind of criticism that doesn’t focus on what they can bring to the table, but rather on whether they should even be at the table in the first place.

#NoFilter, in this case, means that women don’t just have the ability to stand up for themselves, they have an obligation to. As Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, stated, “We have socialized our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave.” This particular quote struck a chord with me. I’ve always striven to be perfect: perfect grades, perfect appearance, and perfect career–everything laid out just so like a cropped and filtered Instagram photo. I was too afraid to take a chance and assert myself or else risk people possibly seeing me fail. But that’s just the thing… Saujani said in her speech that women need to risk failure more often, not just to be more authentic, but to accomplish great things. As someone working in a field where no day is truly the same, this piece of advice is important as I face new challenges.

2. Embracing leading female characters not as a rarity, but the norm.

“You cannot be what you cannot see.” – Reshma Saujani, Founder, CEO of Girls Who Code

As we grow up, our perspectives are often shaped by what we see on the screen. Saujani explained that women in tech are heavily outnumbered by men, a number that has actually decreased since the 70s. She believes it could very well be because girls literally don’t see themselves in tech— they only see men. TV shows and films depicting the tech industry don’t seem to be writing parts for females in tech that are playing pivotal roles. She explained how the number of women in professions such as medicine and law has increased perhaps because of TV shows and films that showcase bad-ass female characters with no filter.

When I think about how women are represented in the media, I’m struck by how limited they are by the roles they play. As a feminist, I am sometimes questioned as to why I even decided to take a job in advertising, an industry that is notorious for objectifying women and reinforcing gender stereotypes. I think, firstly, we’ve been seeing quite a few brands that have been embracing a more progressive stance in representing women in ads, from Always to Dove to Wells Fargo. There’s more work to be done, but I want to be a part of the movement that shapes the industry and ultimately rejects the idea of sexualizing and objectifying women. Likewise, I think that there have been more empowering roles for women in television and film, but I want to start living in a world that stops questioning why strong female characters exist in the first place.

There needs to be more of an effort on our marketers, our advertisers, our filmmakers, and our TV producers to create compelling female characters in roles that have typically been filled by men. Though gender stereotypes in the media are fortunately being called out more and more, I hope that as marketers, we can work together against reinforcing damaging heteronormative ideas.

3. Support one another as women unwaveringly

“Believe in the power of community and support other women.” – Robin and Andrea McBride, Founders of Truvee Wines

Women, who have been too often viewed through a masculine lens in business, are frequently subjected to criticism not just by their male peers, but by their female peers as well. Maura Healey explained that even women would question her choice to run as attorney general in addition to her style choices. As you can imagine, women cutting down other women is one of the least beneficial ways to represent ourselves, to respect ourselves, and to change the gender disparity in our respect professions.

Women like Linda Boff, the Chief Marketing Officer of GE, will actually set up networking events specifically for talented women to connect with other talented women. Reshma Saujani’s company Girls Who Code is based on the very idea of sisterhood and building a common bond through learning a new skill. Maura Healey will make an effort to reach out to other women at work events that are heavily outnumbered by men. I, myself, have experienced the power of women helping women when I joined a sorority, which connected me with women across the nation who gave me career advice and put me in touch with the right people. I continue to support my sisters to this day when they reach out to me and ask for my help. These are just a few examples of how we can foster that community of strong women and help each other succeed. It’s so incredibly important.

However, I feel that one thing missing from the forum was a discussion on how we, as women, can’t do this alone. As strong, intelligent, and independent as we might be, we need to work with men to get them to change their perspectives on working women. The cultural landscape cannot be shifted just on one side. We need to work together to change the ideas that women should look a certain way and act a certain way to pursue their careers.

The Women’s Leadership Forum left me feeling inspired to say the very least. I felt a rush of you-can-do-anything-ness, and as soon as I got home, I started writing down my goals and ideas— and the risks I am willing to take to achieve them. I loved this event, and I hope that there are more like it in the future.

So how do you think you can implement these lessons from the forum in your workspace and industry?


This blog first appeared on . Written by Mackenzie Lane, Associate Account Executive at AMP Agency.

It’s Our Turn

Written by Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, as part of a series produced by Havas Media (@HavasMediaUSA), in conjunction with The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum.



I started playing basketball when I was seven. I was short (still am) and my shot barely hit the rim. But I loved basketball.

Growing up in a small town, I was often out there with my four younger brothers and sisters, working on my ball handling and shooting drills. I loved it and I’m glad I stayed with it.

It got me through high school and my parents’ difficult divorce. It got me a tryout for the national team (I was cut right away). And it got me into college where I played. When I graduated, I wanted to keep playing. So I moved to Europe, played in a professional women’s league, saw the world, made lasting friendships and grew perspective.

I experienced new freedoms and new opportunities, things I had taken for granted – the right to speak your mind and the right to make your own decisions.

That experience led me to become an advocate for those same rights, so I applied to law school. In the 20 years since then, I’ve had the uncertainty many times that comes from starting down a new path.

I loved being a lawyer at a large law firm, but I took a risk to become a civil rights lawyer for the attorney general’s office and argued cases in court that people said we couldn’t win.

In 2009, Massachusetts sued the federal government, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, which told married same-sex couples that their marriages weren’t valid. I was proud to take on the case at a time when only two states allowed same-sex couples to marry. Most Americans were still opposed to that.

But we took a risk. We built a case about our values as a society. And we won. Our case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. And we won there too. We won a victory for equality in Massachusetts and across the country.

Running for Attorney General was the scariest and most uncertain thing I’ve done in my entire life. But I knew running was the right choice. And here I am today.

Now more than ever, women are taking risks, and following their hearts. They know their personal power in creating change, see the benefits of leaning into uncertainty, and aren’t ashamed to leave their filter behind. Women are louder, bolder, and less patient about closing the gender gap. Women are true leaders – and one will soon become our next President of the United States.

But we need to keep pushing. Here in Massachusetts, we’re taking on the skyrocketing cost of higher education and the crushing weight of student debt. We’re fighting to reform our criminal justice system and keep guns off our streets. We’re tackling the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.

We also need to level the playing field – which is why supporting policies like paid family leave and raising the minimum wage are important. It’s also why we need to ensure equal pay for equal work.

In Massachusetts, our simple vision of equal pay has proved hard to achieve. Despite the Equal Pay Act that was passed 71 years ago, wage disparities persist and they are significant. In Massachusetts, women still only earn 80 percent of what men earn for doing the same job. The gap is even wider for mothers and women of color. When women’s pay falls behind, families fall behind.

Today, we are working to make the first real update to our Equal Pay Act. We have the power to change these laws. If we don’t do it, no one will.

As women, as leaders, we have learned to start telling it like it is. There are big fights we need to take on, but many of them will be waged in State Houses and boardrooms and courthouses across the country. And we need a seat at the table.

That’s why from the steps of our health clinics to the halls of the Supreme Court, we’re fighting for reproductive freedom, to make sure that every woman in this state has access to birth control if she wants it – and health care when she needs it.

The simplest and most important thing we can do is support other women – whether that’s mentoring younger women, encouraging our female colleagues, or having honest conversations about the challenges we all face.

In the end, it all comes down to taking risks. When I decided to run for office, I had never been on a ballot, never raised a dollar, never asked for a vote.

People said it wasn’t my turn, but I guess they were wrong.

Now it’s OUR turn.


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Five Things Every Leading Agency CEO Should Be Doing

Written by Lori Hiltz, CEO of Havas Media North America. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, as part of a series produced by Havas Media (@HavasMediaUSA), in conjunction with The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum.


Four years ago the owners of Havas approached me with the opportunity to become the CEO of Havas Media North America — a new entity that was the result of a restructuring of several disparate business units into one cohesive full-service media agency network. I did not have the privilege or experience of being a CEO and the role was not without obvious challenges that all leaders face.

However, there is no roadmap on how to be a CEO, no manual, no webex training and certainly no perfect background. Much of the job comes from your ability to rally people and listen to what they’re saying on a daily basis. After three plus years, I’ve learned and feel strongly any successful marketing agency CEO needs to be doing the following things.

1. Read, Read, Read
Seems somewhat self-explanatory but an imperative. A CEO should read… everything. While my days are busy, I make time to keep up whenever I’m in transit — my trusted WiFi card delivering every possible piece of business and industry content possible. I personally love reading the content on the Pope app & the Dalai LamI Quote app in order to have a better understanding of peacefulness and kindness. It’s critical a CEO have a pulse on news, analysis and developments shaping our work for clients. Whether it be industry reporting (the marketing/advertising business is blessed to have arguably the best trade press in any industry), examination from analysts or just the musings of your favorite futurist on Twitter — taking the time to read provides a CEO context for the challenges their company will face upon arrival each day.

2. Meet & Mingle
Yes, as the CEO I’m the lead salesperson and spokeswoman for my company. I’m fortunate to meet a lot of people. However, I often challenge my team to make sure I’m meeting change agents. Media is being disrupted by technology, new social platforms, changing consumer behaviors, cultural shifts and entertainment offerings. I want to meet the people who are doing the disrupting. As for mingling — to be clear I don’t mean working the room at an event. Specifically, it’s critical a CEO mingle with their own people. Our industry’s product is the power of people and the ideas they generate. I make it a point to sit in meetings, attend team gatherings and insert myself as often as I can. By blending the takeaways from my industry meetings with the insights I get from mingling with our team I am regularly surprised with the outcome and how it’s rarely what I previously thought.

3. Stay Close to Academia
During my tenure, I have found that some of the best thinking I get emanates not from the boardroom but rather the classroom. Members of academia whether it be professors, think tank leaders or even students provide unique and often theoretical insight that helps inspire me. Sometimes the suggestions lack the necessary underpinning of business in the ‘real-world’ but the counsel should not be overlooked. Take the time to include a trusted member of academia within your circle and meet with them regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Cultivate Passion
Passion! In a business like ours that thrives on creativity nothing can deliver results more than a colleague with passion. As a CEO you need to cultivate it. Create the environment for it to live, grow and prosper. This starts with ensuring your team has the comfort and courage to chase failure and push the envelope of what was previously thought impossible. It also means giving them the latitude to chase their dreams both in and out of the office so they’re focused and rejuvenated for your clients.

5. Move Your Seat
Moving your seat in the literal sense… sure. No matter how busy — remaining visible and approachable is very important. But in a figurative sense — a CEO should be perpetually thinking about the challenges people in different seats are facing. Moving your seat and taking the time to learn what it is they need or want to achieve at a higher level only helps to strengthen your complete understanding of your business and that of your clients and makes for a stable and powerful organization.


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