8 Mar 2018
At Superunion, with our scale and creative and strategic expertise, comes diversity of experience and opinion.
For International Women’s Day this year, we want to celebrate the women who inspire us; share and discuss our views of how gender is presented in marketing and communications around the world; and acknowledge what we can do more of to keep creatively pushing the boundaries.
This morning we hosted an internal breakfast panel with Superunion UK’s Digital Creative Director Marta Swannie, Client Partner Arlaine Shepherd, Managing Partner Christina Futcher, Senior Strategist Andi Davids and guest speaker Karen Blackett OBE, WPP’s UK Country Manager and Chairwoman of MediaCom UK. The panel has been a catalyst for discussion; we didn’t expect to come away with a uniform opinion, and we shouldn’t, the goal was to come away thinking. As Francisca Posada Brown, one of our London strategists and wrote: ‘We have a very powerful role in the world when it comes to the influence we can have. We should use it to lead the way.’
Today we celebrate the women that inspire us across the regions we work in - women in the arts, in film and production, women we work with and who’ve mentored us, women in the creative industry, and business leaders – the list is long, and responses came from across our network.
“Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder & CEO of Bumble, and co-founder of Tinder. In a predominantly male-dominated tech industry, Whitney has created a platform for men and women that goes beyond dating, and into the world of friendship, business, and social change, built on the idea of equality. It’s valued at $1bn within 3 years, demonstrating not only the power of the platform, but the power and value of women as a community, as consumers, and as drivers of change.”
Po Kay Lee, Singapore
“I’m inspired by self-made women, women who have taken control of their lives. Chiara Ferragni is one, six months pregnant and president and CEO of her own company; and Huda Katan who created an entire cosmetic line because she couldn’t find a product to meet her needs, a line that now has makeup hues for everyone.”
María Lara, Buenos Aires
“Sarah Wood OBE, co-founder and CEO of Unruly. Female role model, inspirational woman in tech, champion of diversity in the workplace, associate lecturer at the University of Cambridge, co-founder of City Unrulyversity – and much more!”
Francisca Posada Brown, London
“My creative idol has always been Paula Scher who has been at the top of her game, doing great, great work for many years.”
Sonja Fahn, Cape Town
“Jessica Walsh,” says Becki Sewell who’s based in our London-studio, “Because she does her own thing and doesn’t conform!” “I think she's fearless,” adds Andy Reynolds, working in our Hong Kong studio, “I was so impressed by her when she presented at Cannes.”
“Kelly Anna is an illustrator who changed her career path at university and pursued her passion relentlessly ever since. She now boasts clients like Nike, Topshop, H&M and has celebrity fans of her fashion prints including Beyoncé and Cara Delevigne. And Jack Renwick, the scariest but most inspiring woman I’ve ever worked with!”
Sam Hall, London
“Dame Helena Morrissey is absolutely inspirational. She was CEO of Newton when we initially started our first project there, and has moved now to be Head of Personnel at Legal & General. As well as leading at these great companies, she’s also a founder of the 30% Club, which aims to get a greater representation of women onto the boards of FTSE100 companies. And she’s also managed to have nine children during her career too.”
Pippa Chishick, London
“The late Zaha Hadid. Beyond her work, I will always admire how she made it to be one of the greatest female architects not only in the region, but in the world. And in the middle east, that’s tough.”
Farah Gamal, Dubai
“Es Devlin for her absolutely stunning, instantly iconic, go-big-or-go-home stage sets and installations. I find all of her work a reminder that you can create unforgettable work with a simple idea, executed really, really well (and really big).”
Marc Spicer, London
“Nicky Bullard. She’s amazing, and sort of a mentor to me. She’s a chairman and CCO. She is helps women to thrive in the creative industry and inspires everyone with her achievements. She also contributes to an intern bursary called Creative Equals to help women work in London at creative agencies. She’s my inspiration!”
Leah Bravo, London
“Pip Black and Joan Murphy who designed the fitness studio Frame, their unique model has disrupted the way people view fitness and gym memberships. And Sheryl Sandberg who has been really open about juggling being a business woman with loss and being a single parent unexpectedly.”
Vanessa Davey, London
“In Spain, we’re fortunate to be able to look up to the likes of Ana Patricia Botín (President of Santander), Ana María Llopis (President of DIA Group), Rosa María García (President of Siemens Spain), Esther Alcocer Koplowitz (President of FCC constructions), María Garaña (President of Microsoft Ibérica), and Marta Martínez (President of IBM Spain). It’s great to have these women leading huge companies in our country, and it something we want to see more and more of. In the creative world, we’re inspired by Eva Gutierrez Garcia, CEO of Sra. Rushmore, one of the most awarded advertising agencies in Spain; and Raquel Espantaleon, Head of Strategic Planning at DDB Madrid.
Almudena Clemente, Madrid
“In a very male-dominated business and part of the world, Lebanese Director Nadine Labaki has managed to break-through and disrupt her industry, creating her very own signature and style in music videos and movie direction that many have followed since.”
Farid Chami, Dubai
“Cindy Gallop. Fearless. A brilliantly loud voice in the industry.”
Mark Wood, London
“Brené Brown is a great inspiration for me. She is a researcher who has spent years studying human emotions and connection. She defines herself as a recovered perfectionist and I am learning from her work how to live an imperfect life with gratitude. And from the creative industry, Debbie Millman. Not only a writer and designer, but also an educator who helps design students be better professionals.”
Maria Spitaleri, Buenos Aires
“She truly believes in the power of creativity and that great brands can use design and story-telling to genuinely connect with people,” adds Kyley Potgieter, our creative director in Johannesburg, referring to Debbie Millman. “Aside from her creative talent and design ability, Debbie co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is host of Design Matters, where she has interviewed some of the worlds’ most influential creative types. In essence, Debbie has demonstrated to young designers, like myself, that being a designer is not just creating beautiful packaging or an iconic logo, but rather a way of approaching the world. A philosophy, an inherent desire to make things make sense to people in the simplest and most beautiful way.”
“Reese Witherspoon because she is an absolute boss!” says our London-based Sophie Martin, “She’s proven her acting ability and has now turned that into a female driven production company. She encourages ambition in EVERYONE.” Witherspoon is also an inspiration for London-based Mona-Lisa Caravaniez, for promoting and writing scripts with great parts for women that place characters outside gender clichés.
“Ellen Degeneres. For being a successful businesswoman who’s dedicated her life to being kind to others. She’s managed to build an empire out of her comedy and now has a platform to help others in entertainment. Mariana Maldonado, Bogotá
“Sheryl Sandberg, for her ability to lead in a male dominated business (and country). An inspiring and proactive thought leader who constantly promotes women’s roles in corporations.”
Ubonwan Khorthavornwong, Bangkok
“Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, for creating one of the most influential social networking clubs out of a simple pain-point and making it easier to share impartial parenting advice.”
Iain Ellwood, London
“Barbara Kruger. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her work in MOMA when I was in school, so powerful, simple and strong. I learnt from her that if you want to say it, say it out loud and direct, without hesitation.
Ray Lan, Shanghai
“Natalie Rastoin, President of Ogilvy France, is the perfect combination of a brilliant brain, fast thinking, hard-working, great emotional intelligence and a good sense of humour.”
Camille Yvinec and team, Paris
“American power lifter Kortney Olson, who set up her own training clothing brand for women after experiencing personal prejudices due to her body shape. She has created a brand that has really connected to many women globally because she's given them a voice and confidence.”
Christina Futcher, London
“My younger sister, Clara. She has so many positive qualities without any of the undesirable baggage – confidence without arrogance; competitiveness without bitterness or envy; charity without conceitedness; achievement without ego or a sense of entitlement; ethics without self-righteousness.”
Lucas Morel, London
“For the main phases of my career I've always worked for women, so my various bosses have inspired me over time both in the UK and in Asia. I'm still in contact with all of them and they continue to be mentors to me.”
Alex Clegg, London
“My first boss and creative director Zoe Wishart. She saw my potential, she nurtured me, she helped me develop into the designer and person I am today.”
Dan Ellis, Singapore
“Out of all my ex female CDs it has got to be Iris Yu, the key lady who taught me all the printing, design programming and client communications skills that I need to know to survive in this industry! She is witty, fierce, tough, super creative, very detailed, poised even if deadline’s approaching, patient, love to share, cares for us, never moan, and is literally, the humblest designer I have ever met. I love her.”
Kitty Chan, Hong Kong
Melanie Campbell (Marketing Portfolio Manager) at Pernod Ricard South Africa. To me she has taken a global brand from near extinction to its former glory. She has set new standard for alcohol brands on the continent and continues to outshine her male counter parts in the industry. Whilst doing that, she is a mother, wife, spiritual and continues to give to her community as well.
Jacqui Richards, Cape Town