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Interview to Christina Knight – Clio 2009 jury member

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May
22,
2009
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Christina Knight is Creative Director at Ogilvy Stockholm. She studied film and literature brought her into sales and marketing at EF Language Schools where she discovered the joy of copywriting. After a year at Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm she had the fortune of being called up by Hall & Cederquist, the best agency in town at that time. She have enjoyed the experience of working at small and large agencies, run her own, worked freelance and moving from a copywriting into the challenge of a Creative Director, formerly at DRAFT, now at Ogilvy in Stockholm.

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AdWomen: Your work, as a member of the festival’s jury, consists of judging hundreds of campaigns. In your opinion, is it possible to know by intuition if it was created by women?

Christina Knight: No, there is no way of knowing. Sometimes I make an intuitive guess, but I am only right half of the time!

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AdWomen: The incorporation of women into creative teams is a slow process. What is our influence on the creative performance [if there is any]? Do we contribute something characteristic that men don’t?

Christina Knight: I hate to generalise, but here we go. In general, I think female presence into a pre-dominantly male context is beneficial, just as a male presence is in a pre-dominantly female context. Why? Because it creates a balance; the result is a combination of more than one perspective, which usually makes it more interesting and whole. In general, I think women tend to counterbalance the process by bringing in references from a woman’s world, a woman’s experiences. Often, but not necessarily more emotional, intellectual, holistic and humane and often with another type of not so Jack-Ass-like humour.

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AdWomen: In the last year edition of CLIO Awards there were only 4 products/services for women that got to be awarded. Why it’s more common to find among winners ads of products for men?

Christina Knight: Products for women are largely still within the cosmetic/sanitary/household category, which are categories still largely charecterised by a stereotypical, traditional view of womanhood and likewise the ads are traditional too. I salute the day when traditional brands dare take the leap into the real world of women with intelligence and humour; once they do there will be many more winners.

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AdWomen: In the interview with Ruth Lee she told us an anecdote about one product for women, whose campaign have been created my men, and that it didn’t really work with its female target. Notwithstanding, it got to be awarded in Cannes, voted basically by men who found the creative idea very attractive and easy to understand. What if campaigns made for women would be judged by female jury…?

Christina Knight: No, no, no – let’s not go there. In order for the counterbalance and the fruitful and rewarding conversations to take place we need more women in juries than there have been today, but absolutely not segregated juries! Naturally, in those juries, everyone has to listen and respect individual experiences and opinions, and naturally women do have more experiences of some things than men and vice versa. I remember a hilarious client’s meeting with Johnson&Johnson, right at the start of my career when I was 26, in a boardroom with 11 men, all my senior, telling them about periods and tampons! But they listened!

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AdWomen: There are some surveys that show that the majority of women do not really feel identified with brands. Do you thing that this could possibly change if there would be more women engaged in making campaigns for women?

Christina Knight: I am a little surprised at the result of the survey, but OK. Probably it would change, just in the way that the fashion industry has developed with lots of great women designers, counterbalancing the pre-dominantly male world of haute couture. But my over-all take is again that both men and women are needed in campaigns for both male and female audiences.

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AdWomen: Just to know, how many women are there on your team?

Christina Knight: I am glad to say that we are very 50/50 at Ogilvy Stockholm; we have a woman CEO, Carola Maatta and  I have  lots of  women colleagues, not least digital/ creative  people, inclduing both art directors and copywriters, at hand.

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AdWomen: What concerns women as a target-what are the key factors in the communication to women that connects with them the best?

Christina Knight: There is no one answer to that question. Women are individuals and I would hate to pretend that I would know the answer; that would be generalizing way too much. I think women, just like men, are concerned with universal truths that appeal to our most basic instincts and needs. It is the expression of these truths that may differ.

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AdWomen: In the interview with Shalina Dam ( Grey , India ), made in March for the occasion of Adfest, she said that women in the advertising industry have to work much harder than men, to be treated as ¨a member of the club¨. How does it look like from your point of view?

Christina Knight: The field of advertising is no different than the rest of the world of business, or indeed the world as such. Men have historically been leaders and men have recruited other men for leading positions, to be members of “their club”.  I am now lucky enough to be in a position where I can recruit both men and women, based on their competence, and I take a lot of trouble to make sure I create that balance which I so truly believe in; a balance of ages, backgrounds and male/female. Also, I often tell young women who come and talk to me and show their portfolios that is isn’t just a question of being chosen, it is a question of choosing yourself. Do you WANT to be a meber of that specific club? Does it share your values and ambitions? If you can’t find “your” club, perhaps you should create your own with other people, men and women, who share your vision?? For the truth is, you will never be comfortable or perform your best if you belong to the “wrong” club!

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AdWomen: Could it be that women feel intimidated by the number of male names being in charge of the creative production? (creatives, producers, directors, photographers…). Can it be one of the reasons why women usually stay back from the creative departments and work as account executives of public relations officers? Could female role models change this status quo and encourage young people?

Christina Knight: Role models are absolutely crucial; in fact I have written a whole essay on this topic because I truly believe if you don’t see women “flying planes, you don’t think they can”; you need to see that it is possible, successful and strong and you need to be inspired by people you can relate to, so, yes, role models are really, really important. When I went to ad school in Stockholm, I didn’t have one single female teacher! That is why I have spent many, many years lecturing myself at that very school. Today, it has changed radically; there are lots of really good and talented women at the school, as there are men!

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AdWomen: Due to your experience, is there something like a female factor in creativity?

Christina Knight: Yes, a female factor in the sense of female experiences of what it means/feels like to be a woman, just as there is then a male factor based on other experiences. But I cannot generalize and characterize that factor.

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AdWomen: To sum up, a brief test:

Your best campaign: I know I am supposed to say “One I haven’t created yet”, but I am actually really proud of one I did when I was 26 for a  chain of undertakers!! And I am also really happy about a DM campaign called “Hello Period!” for young teenagers on the subject of periods and sanitary protection. It won a Cannes Lion and it’s now running  for it’s  6th year!

A nowadays campaign that you like the most: It’s not brand new but I LOVE the  Adidas Jose +10 commercial; yes, you could say it’s male because it’s about football and all full of men, but it’s NOT really, because it is based on a universal truth; the feeling of being small and a nobody in a backyard; dreaming of your role models and then your dream comes true; anyone, male or female can relate to that grand feeling! It’s brill!

A friend from work: Everyone at Ogilvy Stockholm, male and female, who together make up the whole. But especially Gittan Belaieff, in the reception, who greets us with a smile every morning. God bless her!

One creative female professional: Karin Ernrot at Tewonder, Stockholm who was also part of starting the network SheCreatives in Sweden and who I am a mentor for.

An advice for young creatives: Once you are in the business, never forget what it was like to be young and new. Always strive to be a role model for others. Don’t try to be like everyone else, be yourself, be a real person and try to find your truths, ideas and inspiration in the real world rather than in the world of advertising – and you will be truly successful!

A farewell: Thank you to all those men and women who believed in me once I started up; especially to all those 50+ men who were MEN and TWICE my age, and still believed in me, worked with me, gave me huge responsibilities and taught me how to fly. There were few women around at that time, but then gradually as they arrived, thank you too to all of you for your endless support, inspiration and creativity!!!

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