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We must place women at senior levels, says Susan Credle, CCO, FCB Global

In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Credle spoke about the relevance of social campaigns being undertaken by brands and the increasing leadership by women in ad agencies

Susan Credle

FCB is probably the only agency in the world where all its leading offices across the globe are being helmed by women. In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Susan Credle, CCO, FCB, said that women give a different perspective to creativity all together.

"At FCB, our CCOs in San Francisco, Canada, Toronto, Chicago, Brazil and India are women. I have got so many women CCOs across our major offices in the company," she said.

"I think that whenever there is a panel, it should be 50:50 of male and female ratio. I tell people if the panel is not close to 50:50, I won’t do it," she added.

FCB India’s campaign ‘Sindoor Khela’ for Times of India Kolkata edition won a lot of applause at Cannes and stood out for its creativity. Credle credited Swati Bhattacharya, the India CCO of FCB, for the campaign. "Before the campaign, Times of India was seen as an outside paper of Kolkata, it is now considered the insider and a culturally relevant newspaper."

Speaking on the increasing number of social causes campaigns being undertaken by brands, she said, "If you are just doing it on the side, then I am not even sure why are you doing it even as you really don’t have a real commitment to it. The companies that have true values at their heart are going to win."

Excerpts:

FCB India’s campaign ‘Sindoor Khela’ did really well at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. What are your comments on the win?

I am very thrilled and excited because it came from the heart of Swati Bhattacharya, who is the first female CCO in India. I am thrilled to see her honoured and celebrated because she deserves that. I had a word with the Times of India client (Sanjeev Bhargava) and he kept on stressing the fact that he loved the work for its humanity angle, but he also wanted people to understand that it’s good for his business as well. Before the campaign, Times of India was seen as an outside paper of Kolkata. It is now considered an insider and culturally relevant newspaper.

Where would you rank the India office among all offices across the world?

It’s really big. We have always had a very strong agency there. When I joined FCB 2.5 years ago, my partner at office mentioned that it’s a strong office for us. So, back then only we went on a mission to start pushing creativity in our India office. Two years later, I wouldn’t have thought we would get there so quickly.

Most of the campaigns that have won at Cannes are attached to social causes. Do you think that it’s easier for social causes’ campaign to win than the ones that are not attached to a cause? What is the reason for such kind of work winning more?

I think the world needs us. Only meaningful ideas are making a difference in the world and will get more attention. The key is that it has to be constructed for a business and brand reason. If you are just doing it on the side, then I am not even sure why are you doing it even as you really don’t have a real commitment to it. The companies that have true values at their heart are going to win.

We heard a lot of talk at Cannes on gender equality. What can be done by the female leadership at the agencies to maintain gender equality at work?

At FCB, our CCOs in San Francisco, Canada, Toronto, Chicago, Brazil and India are women. I have got so many women CCOs across our major offices in the company. We must look for women and place them at senior levels. I hired Swati (Bhattacharya) because of the films she has been making. Her work in advertising was important but the work she was doing outside advertising was even more important. I didn’t look traditionally and asked her what she has got in her portfolio and went beyond that. I think that whenever there is a panel, it should be 50:50 of male and female ratio. I tell people if the panel is not close to 50:50, I won’t do it. The PR people in the agencies should also be considerate about who is getting covered and quoted in the public and emphasise on women being covered more in news. Otherwise, they will become invisible.

Is there also a difference in the creative output coming from a man or a woman?

The Times of India kind of a work could have never happened if a man would have done it. A man would not have understood what is it like to be recognised as a woman who got married and went through a divorce and then told to be excommunicated because you are no longer married, which basically means you are no longer a full woman until you are married. Swati said that it was an injustice. I should not be married to be recognised as a full woman. I don’t think a man would have known that feeling and be passionate about it. I think that is a perfect example of why females come with a different story. We not just need female stories but diverse stories out there.

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