Brutal hours and intense deadlines have made it hard for moms to land leadership roles in advertising—and that's bad news for agencies and clients since moms offer a valuable perspective for brands who are targeting that exact group.
The issue sparked StrawberryFrog's new campaign, "Mom Is Not a Bad Word," which is timed to Mother's Day and calls for more flexible, mom-friendly workplaces in advertising, marketing and media, to give mothers a better shot at leadership roles in agencies.
"It's important to give mothers a chance to stay in the workforce and still be able to have it all, as you'd say, but it's a difficult thing to achieve," said Karin Drakenberg, co-founder and COO of the agency. "If moms don't come back to the workforce, it's a huge loss of brain power."
The campaign features a video of working moms at StrawberryFrog who discuss career challenges they've faced in the past, like their children getting sick when there's an important meeting, or taking flack for leaving the office early due to a family obligation. They also talk about how StrawberryFrog has created a flexible work environment for moms, with four-day workweeks and the option to work from home without judgment.
"We wanted to show that working moms can thrive, and use examples of our own people who are doing it every day," said Scott Goodson, co-founder and CEO of New York-based agency.
The effort also includes a website, FrogMoms.com, featuring more information on the topic and a podcast with 4A's president and CEO Nancy Hill, who chats with Goodson about the growing movement for equality for women in leadership positions in marketing and media.
More flexibility for moms at agencies means more opportunities for women to advance to leadership positions, Goodson added. "If you look at statistics, there are a lot of women in entry-level positions in the advertising, marketing and media world, and as soon as they reach that stage when they become parents, a lot of them leave the workforce," he said. "We're trying to start a conversation around the fact that women should be in leadership positions, but for that to happen, moms need a more flexible work environment."
According to a study by The 3 Percent Conference, which champions creative female talent and leadership, the national average of women who are mothers is 80 percent, while only 38 percent of women in the advertising industry have kids. "We're completely in support of working parents, and we love what [StrawberryFrog is] doing," said Lisen Stromberg, COO of The 3 Percent Conference. "They're presenting a model of how it can be done. It doesn't have to be either/or. You can have workplaces that aren't about face time all the time, and still get great work done."
Holly Gordon, founder of Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls' education, also praised the effort. "Too many women start promising careers but leave when they have children—not because they want to, but because traditional workforce structures don't work. The system has to change," she said. "This is a timely and vital call to action, to keep mothers in the workforce and in leadership positions."
Workplaces that support mothers will benefit from a business standpoint as well, Goodson said. "Seventy to 80 percent of all consumer spending is being done by mothers, and yet we have young people and men creating marketing from them. It doesn't make sense. It's hard to get inside the head of a mother unless you are a mother."
Founder and CEO: Scott Goodson
Executive Creative Director/Art: Shayne Millington
Executive Creative Director/Copy: Craig Love
Director: Brook Pifer
Photographer: Lisa Houlgrave
Account Director: Taleah Mona-Lusky
Producer: Courtney Trent
Producer: Venessa Merrin
Producer: Kit Liset
Head of Production: Afsaneh Berjis
Designer: James Politi
Design Director: David Orton
Hair and Makeup: Lynn Lamorte
DP: Michael Cogliantry
Second Camera: Mat Gaver
Video Editor: Adam Hellan