By Michelle Castillo
Filmmaker and commercial director Lauren Greenfield spent the early part of her career critically examining how media and advertising shape youth culture. But it wasn't until she was hired to do her first ad ー a Nike campaign ー that she realized marketing can actually change public perception for the better.
"I realized if you do something positive or different in advertising, you can have this incredible effect," she told Cheddar.
"None of the teenagers [I worked with] had seen pictures from my $25 coffee book, but a lot of them had the Nike ads on their walls," Greenfield told Cheddar. The ad, which focused on empowering girls who don't resemble conventional models, inspired the filmmaker to think deeply about marketing.
Greenfield has since directed documentaries including "Generation Wealth" and "Queen of Versailles" as well as the #LikeAGirl campaign for the Always brand.
Greenfield is hoping advertising may also help women break through gender barriers in film and television. Her production company Girl Culture Films, which she launched on Tuesday with Frank Evers, is focused on getting women and people from diverse backgrounds hired as film directors on advertising campaigns and branded content productions.
The company represents talent like Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight"), Karyn Kusama ("Jennifer's Body," "Destroyer"), Amy Berg ("West of Memphis"), Marina Zenovich ("Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind"), among others. Eventually, Girl Culture Films will expand to scripted and non-scripted film and television in addition to advertising work, Greenfield said.
Out of the top 250 films at the box office in 2018, only 8 percent were directed by a woman, according to a San Diego State University study. Last year, only 11 percent of creative directors were women.
A woman's perspective can also bring an important voice to brands. According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group, women were estimated to control about $40 trillion on consumer spending globally by 2018. The report projected women would account for 70 to 80 percent of household purchase decisions last year.
Many of the gender and racial discrepancies in different industries stem from deep-rooted traditional roles, said Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer at advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Women didn't have the same opportunities to advance their professional careers, often having to put their jobs and education on hold to raise families, she said.
"The majority of brand campaign directors are men," Johnson, who is a member of Girl Culture Advisor Board, explained. "Considering how much buying power women have, I'm excited we can fill the void."
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