Emily Garvey, Zulu Alpha Kilo NY: "There is a resilience in being a woman in advertising."

Representation and authenticity go a long way in providing a path of support to the next generation

кем India Fizer , AdForum

Zulu Alpha Kilo NY
Полный комплекс услуг
Brooklyn, United States
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Emily Garvey recently made history as the first head of strategy for Zulu Alpha Kilo New York office. Garvey has led multidisciplinary brand building teams to out-of-the-box advertising strategies for the world's most successful global brands for over 15 years - including Kraft Heinz, Adidas, Instagram, Samsung, Cadillac and HBO.

Utilizing her experience as a woman in the industry, she speaks on recognizing and tearing down unconscious stigmas to create a more equal workplace for everyone.


In what ways can women in advertising pave the way for or support younger women hoping to break into advertising? 

We need to show young women they don’t have to act like men to be successful. It’s intimidating starting out because our industry tends to favor the loudest and brashest (i.e. male) voices. As female leaders, it’s crucial we stay true to ourselves and not mask our personalities or feminine traits, so the next generation sees a path into advertising that is authentic to them. Also important is not to typecast women into traditional ‘female’ advertising roles, and of course, responding to out-of-the-blue LinkedIn messages.


How can we close the gap created by ageism, especially among women, in the industry?

It starts by recognizing that the ageism in our industry reflects deeper societal biases against women. And unfortunately, that means recognizing the double bind women face. Either we’re ‘too young’ and seen as unserious and lacking authority, or we’re ‘too old’ and therefore irrelevant and unlikeable. Somewhere in the middle a lot of women also become moms, where our commitment is questioned even though the post-bedtime shift has sadly become the advertising norm. Everyone needs to recognize these unconscious stigmas, but especially as women, it’s important we don’t use these against one another.


How does your experience as a woman in marketing inform your work? 

It’s a tricky question because I do think stereotypical ‘feminine’ attributes are the real superpowers in this business. Empathy, intuition, emotional intelligence are much greater indicators of effectiveness than, let’s say, taking risks for their own sake. I’m tired of so many hot agencies positioning themselves with macho energy, just wanting to “break shit” and tear it all down. That’s not how brands connect with people. As a woman, it usually comes down to having to work harder to be heard, which is even more true for women of color. There is a resilience in being a woman in advertising. Some of my closest friends are women I’ve met at agencies over the years who I’m in awe of for all different reasons (IYKYK). There’s a kind of sisterhood and bonding that happens when you’re working so hard and care so much.


Gen Z is a generation of digital pioneers and has shifted the framework of many industries. How have this new generation of young women impacted the advertising industry and where do you anticipate they will improve the workplace going forward? 

I’m jealous of these girls. I use “girl” here as a term of respect beyond “girl math” and “girl dinner,” because they are much more liberated from the messed-up relationship with conventional authority that many of us struggle with as women. People like to talk about how Gen Z doesn’t work as hard, but the truth is they’ve transformed agency culture for all of us, whether consciously or not. They have work/life balance boundaries that took most of us years to get in touch with. They believe in things. They question what is right and wrong with a lot more fearlessness. And speaking as a strategist, their inputs are just far more interesting. The monoculture is over and they’re living that. This all will make the work better. Young women are giving this business a new moral compass that will keep agency doors open.