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‘Boys club’ ad agencies warned they are alienating female clients at pitches

Ad agencies are turning off potential female clients by arriving up at pitches with a “boys club” lineup, pitch consultant Darren Woolley has warned.

Speaking at Mumbrella Question Time in Sydney, Darren Woolley, boss of consultancy Trinity P3, responded to a question about the lack of women in senior roles.

He said: “This is a big issue for advertising agencies. We’ve run a number of pitches in the last 12 months where the team from the marketing side is all women and then the agencies turn up time and time again with the boys club and you can just see there’s this mismatch of communication. What one person’s saying the other person’s not listening to.”

And he revealed that one agency made an even more disastrous presentation, turning up with one “token” woman who brought cups of tea to her male colleagues.  

Meanwhile, Mark Collis, director of creativity, brand and strategy at Telstra, said that within his company, there were several women in senior roles. He said:  “I feel like I’m in a minority in those senior positions.”

A former ad agency ECD, Collis added: “From the creative side there is definitely a lack of women in senior roles. I cant work out what the answer is.”

He joked: “Maybe men are just more creative than women.”

Henry Tajer, chairman of mediabrands and president of the media federation of Australia said the issue was one for media agencies too. He said: “Sixty per cent of media agency employees and staff are women.” Referring to Tracie Michael who he appointed to run Mediabrands agency Initiative, he said:  On a quick count, there’s only one agency in Australia that has female leadership.

“That has proven to be a gap in the market. What we will look for is opportunities to seek out female CMOs and female CEOs and give them that point of difference.”

Deborah Thomas GM of media, public affairs and brand development at ACP and one of the company’s longest serving editors, said that many boards were an old boys network “bringing their mates in.”

She said: “Women are not very good at putting themselves forward. We’re not as proactive as we should be. We just hope that when we work really hard someone is going to come and tap us on the shoulder.”

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