Time's Up/Advertising Meets Red Books: Hard Data and Women's Experiences Underscore the Pivotal Nature of 2018

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Taylor & Francis

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Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising

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This interdisciplinary work provides insight into why 2018 was a pivotal year for women in American advertising. Specifically, the study uses quantitative and qualitative methodology to explore the number of women in advertising creative departments across the United States from 2012 to 2018, juxtaposed to interviews with women executives who signed on to launch Time’s Up/Advertising in 2018. Quantitative data are drawn from the Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies, also known as Red Books, the advertising industry’s leading database and represent 19,933 individuals across 3,154 agencies. They demonstrate that just 27.9% of all people within advertising creative departments are women and only 22.7% of all creative directors are women. Qualitative in-depth interview data are based on interviews with 25 executive advertising women who helped launch Time’s Up/Advertising. They demonstrate five key findings including the need for systemic accountability, measurable change-oriented outcomes, a more diverse workforce, safe and equitable work environments and a commitment from men at the top to support these changes. Overall, the advertising industry’s own data paint a less than optimal picture of the women’s employment in U.S. advertising creative departments, while the voices of the women advertising executives add texture to this challenging portrait of American advertising.


Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, Vol. 42, No. 1 (2021): 34-48. DOI.