The feminine side of advertising


Interview to “Judee” Thaidumrong – Clio Awards

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Jureeporn "Judee" Thaidumrong is Founder and Creative Director of JEH United. She began her career as a copywriter at DY&R. She then became a senior at Leo Burnett and in 1997, Jureeporn became Creative Director at Results Advertising (an Ogilvy and Mather Agency hot shop) before moving to Saatchi & Saatchi as Executive Creative Director in 2001.

In 2005, Judee started her own creative powerhouse, Jeh United. One year in, Hong Kong's Media Magazine voted her Asia Pacific's 'Creative of the Year' She handles many different clients such as Smooth E, Sylvania Lighting, Lexus, Samsung Mobile Phone and the National Energy Policy Office of Thailand.


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?

Judee: It's harder to determine whether a campaign has been created by women than by men.The recent Dove campaign has the hallmark of a female creative mind. When it comes to advertising for womens' products, sometimes ads can really lack female insights, and it's quite clear that there is little female input. However, most of the time, as judges, we're not thinking about whether or not it's created by men or women, we're thinking purely about the idea and the execution.


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?

Judee: Once, when I was starting out in advertising, I worked very late into the night alongside a male Creative who usually went home before me.  One day, he turned to me and asked, "Is it worth it?"  I just looked at him.  I didn't know how to answer. This is an ego-driven business, and we all have to admit that men have bigger egos. This industry can be extremely demanding, and test the limits of our endurance.  I believe that men are simply better built for the all-nighters and often deal better with pressure.  In the same way, you will find a lot more women in account services than men. In the creative sphere, women will almost always pay more attention to the finer details, which can often be overlooked by their male coleagues.  Women Creatives tend to be less aggressive with their ideas, and males are often more impatient.  I find that women seem more able to let go of their ideas, once unleashed, while men are far more territorial by nature.


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?

Judee: This is the first time I've really thought about this.  What are female products?  Cosmetics, hair products, tampons?  There are not many female-only products. The vast majority of ads are for both men and women, so it stands to reason that there would only be a handful of female- or male-only products that were awarded. Having said that, there is also less innovation in female-only product advertising, perhaps because female consumers are a lot more fickle, and don't respond well to strange, new ideas.  The vast majority of Creatives are males who, quite naturally, find it difficult to fully understand the female mindset.


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…?

Judee: I really don't think that female-only product ads should be judged by female judges.  A jury should be made up of both men and women, looking at the idea without bias.  Only by listening to each others' points of view can we build up a bigger picture.


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?

Judee: I think that female consumers are very discerning.  They quickly tell when a female brand's voice is not truly female, and they see through it.  I think that, yes, if there were more female Creatives involved in advertising these products there would be more engagement from female consumers with brands in general.


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

Judee: Since I started Jeh United, my Creative team has never been more than 30% female.  I believe that percentage would be higher if it wasn't for some cultural obstacles.  Often, female Creatives in Thailand have to be home before a certain hour or their parents will worry. However, nowadays, there are also a lot of male Creatives who I have interviewed who have also been unable to accept the job because their parents had a problem with them coming home late.


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

Judee: Female consumers are complicated and delicate.  The most important things when communicating with them are sincerity and integrity.  Always.


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?

Judee: On the whole, for me, being a woman has been an advantage.  When people saw me working hard - sometimes 48 hours straight – the fact that I am a woman helped me stand out and jump up the ladder in less years.  I don't think that I work harder than men.


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?

Judee: Yes, I think so.  Everyone is looking for inspiration.  I have ended up as a role model for aspiring women in advertising, and I'm very happy to help open up doors.  The best example I can set is just to be myself. When they meet me and see that I am an everyday, down to Earth person, it reinforces the idea that they can get ahead in a male-dominated industry too.


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

Judee: As I said before, female Creatives can bring a sensitivity and attention to details to the table.


AdWomen: To sum up, a brief test:
Your best campaign: The best has not come yet, but perhaps my second best is Smooth-E 'Love Story' TV Campiagn, 2006

A nowadays campaign that you like the most: 'The Millions' Campaign from Droga 5 (New York).
A friend from work: They are all my friends.  I can't mention only one.
One creative female professional: My Mum is the most creative female individual I have ever met.  She is never scared to think differently from others.  Her whole life.
An advice for young creatives: Stay young. Be curious… about everything.
A farewell: "Kob khun kaaaa."

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