Updated: Dec 12, 2019
At this week's Good Girls Eat Christmas Dinner, Rosie Arnold showed a crowd of female creatives her inspirational 1987 ad for Pretty Polly stockings. It proved two things: Creative women have been fighting to show the female gaze forever, and the best stories always come from real life:
Rosie created the ultimate female-friendly, sexy as hell, hosiery ad from a childhood memory of her mum fixing a fan belt on a rainy day in London.
You see, that's what we do in advertising, we tell stories. Usually from our own experience.
At the dinner, four post-menopausal creative women sat opposite four younger creative women when the conversation turned to 'the change'. Rosie said, "Imagine having a hot flush in a fencing suit!" Our side of the table gasped and laughed and the other side tried to grasp what we weren't saying. You see, one of the young women was working on a menopause brief and she really wanted to know what a hot flush is like. Sorry honey, you're just going to have to wait. Nothing can prepare you for your first hot flush! You have never experienced anything like it before in your entire life. And no, we can't explain it to you, except to say that being strapped up in a white fencing suit would be hell!
Wouldn't that make a cool menopause ad! You see, insights don't make great ads - stories do and borrowed stories will always feel like hearsay. Plus, we're not helping the sisterhood by setting young women up for failure (or the 'what's bothering us' section of the Uninvisibility newsletter). Asking a young woman to write a menopause ad is like asking a toddler to write a tampon campaign.
And why should highly-experienced creative women explain our experience anyway? Do the young women tacking menopause briefs work with creative leaders who have actually experienced it? Has a midlife woman come anywhere near the project (other than a group of women who think fifty quid and a research group sandwich is a good night out?) But most importantly, should an industry that treats older women with total disdain profit from us?
Get any group of women between the ages of 45 and 60 together and the menopause stories and laughter start flowing. Get the same age group of advertising creative women and empathic, well-observed, and award-winning ideas start gushing out.
So clients, if you've given your agency a menopause brief and they're just not cracking it, it's not too late to call in the crack team. The Uninvisibility Project is an elite force of the world's greatest female creatives who know what they're doing and damned well know what they're talking about. Because the truth is always stranger than fiction and you really can't make this stuff up!