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Opportunities for Women in Today’s Advertising Industry

Jessica Hawthorne-CastroArmed with the right combination of knowledge, energy, and determination, women can always make their way to the top in the advertising world.

The advertising world is a fantastic place for women to develop their careers and leverage their creative talents in a variety of ways that can help clients achieve their marketing goals. There are opportunities for women up and down the corporate ladder – and across the various departments that make up an advertising agency. Not only do a large percentage of women manage overall accounts for high-profile brands and corporations, but nearly every agency team includes solid female representation across the board.

Identifying Opportunities

Client management is one area in which women can really shine in the advertising sector.  This takes a certain level of compassion and nurturing to turn customers into long-term accounts. Equipped with the natural inclination to stay on top of things and balance everything from a career to family to children, women can deftly manage both clients and employees in the fast-paced advertising world.

Such careers typically spawn from the account executive role, which finds female ad agency professionals serving as the all-important keepers of the client relationships. As they get promoted, the same professionals frequently become account directors and/or overall strategists. In those roles, women are able to see the big picture (i.e., overall agency success) while also maintaining critical client relationships.

Opportunities also exist on the media-buying side of the agency, where attention to detail, good people skills, and solid negotiation tactics are all extremely important. Social media and mobile marketing are both growing in stature and importance right now and require smart, forward-thinking individuals to integrate these tools into nearly every campaign. There’s a natural inclination for young women – in particular – to expand into these advertising areas and leverage them in the best interest of the client.

Hard-Won Advice

I started my career in the entertainment industry, moved over to the creative side of the advertising industry while working with my current agency, and then recently progressed into a management role as COO. I still get involved with some of the creative here at Hawthorne Direct, but for the most part I spend my time creating the best possible experience and environment for our employees. This role really helps to feed my passion not only for helping companies build their brands through excellent direct response advertising strategies, but I also greatly enjoy  the opportunity to leverage the skills and knowledge that I acquired while recently earning my MBA. Today, I help brands build strategy while working on creative platforms that involve both commercials and media.

To women who want to enter the advertising industry right now, my best advice is to find one or more mentors who have already “been there” and who can serve as your support system and sounding board during the early stages of your career. I’ve had numerous mentors during my career. They guided me through some challenging patches, but they never micromanaged me or told me what to do. Instead, they allowed me to take ownership of my projects and actions in a way that ensured I would grow and succeed in the industry.

Advertising, as with virtually any other industry that combines business with creative, requires a certain level of finesse and dedication. And while there have been many books and articles published of late for women – reminding them to assert themselves and know their value in business – the same holds true in the advertising world, where you can’t be afraid to assert yourself and to ask for what you want. Whenever a woman with a strong presence, talent, and self-esteem can bring true value to the table – for clients, team members, and the company as a whole – the rewards will follow.

About the Author

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is Chief Operating Officer at Hawthorne Direct, Inc., a full service brand response advertising agency, specializing in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence in brand response, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns.


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