Digital Has Shifted the Agency Creative Process

The media environment has changed dramatically due to the explosion of new channels and technological innovations, which has had important ramifications not only for advertising, but also for advertising agencies and their creative processes. Using a series of interviews with agency creative directors and digital strategists, this study investigated how agencies have addressed these challenges and taken advantage of the opportunities. Its two key contributions are an updated model of the creative process and the identification of four alternative structures agencies use to create the core concept. The study also found a paradigm shift from framing technology in terms of its production value, to framing technology in terms of its strategic and creative value, as technology specialists have become involved in the strategic and creative stages of campaign development.Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 4.55.46 PM

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An Update to the 3% Statistic

In 2008, I analyzed the 1984, 1994, and 2004 issues of the Communication Arts Advertising Annual. I learned that only 3% of the creative directors across those issues were women. I worked with co-author Karen Mallia to update the data by analyzing the 2014 issue, and women are now 9% of creative directors. The 3% Movement and other efforts to increase the number of female creative directors have made an impact.

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Why do ads feature stereotypes?

My recently published journal article in International Journal of Advertising asks practitioners: Why do advertisements feature stereotypes? What functions do they serve?

Abstract: There is a long and diverse literature on gender stereotypes in advertising; however, US practitioners’ perspectives on the role and function of stereotypes in advertising remain unknown. Understanding professionals’ views on whether and how stereotypes communicate is important for anyone who believes it beneficial to reduce future stereotypical representations. Using qualitative interviews with 42 practitioners, this study detailed seven themes concerning professionals’ perceptions of the role and function of stereotypes in advertising, including beliefs that stereotypes are based in truth, are attractive to audiences, communicate quickly, simplify processing, prevent distraction, prevent thinking, and are the obvious solution. Practitioners felt stereotypes were used most appropriately when they were subverted or challenged in advertising messages. Stereotypes were most inappropriate when they reinforced negative perceptions. Four factors believed to drive the use of stereotypes in advertising are discussed.

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