Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
I’m Amy Beth Stern, a New York City native with 20 years of experience in the brand marketing space and currently the Senior Director of Business Growth & Client Strategy at Eventive Marketing. Eventive is a highly creative experiential and strategic brand activation agency under the Omnicom umbrella.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
I was a Psychology major in school, but had a passion for theater. So, I spent some time after college pursuing my illustrious acting career. During this time, I did quite a bit of serving and tending bar. If anything prepares you for the different type of personalities you will encounter in your career, for the various ways individuals will judge and treat you, it’s the restaurant industry. It prepared me for how to handle clients, co-workers, and bosses.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
Well, aside from the obvious changes that have been occurring over time, since the of the demise of “Don Draper” days, I would say the biggest change is that women have been able to reach higher positions brand side. There are many more female CMOs than ever before. These women run the agency selection process and they see the value of women in strategy and creative roles that will help drive their business goals.
But, that ceiling is not gone, it just may be raised a bit higher. I am always surprised at how few female creative directors there are. We still have work to do in creating true gender-neutral opportunities.
As for challenges that still exist, I sometimes think we (women) are our own worst enemy. We have to shed our fears and gain confidence about our jobs and worth. I don’t know one man that would settle for a salary that he deemed less than his full value, or be nervous of asking for a raise and a promotion. Yet, I hear this all the time from women.
From Like A Girl to Fearless Girl, a raft of advertising campaigns have set out to empower women. How do you feel about these campaigns? Can they change attitudes within the industry?
I remember the first time I saw a “Like a Girl” spot at an industry conference. I needed tissues! I have two little boys and I strive every day to teach them that girls and boys are equally capable of anything. I think if we continue with positive messaging like this, disseminated in the right way and right places, we can absolutely change attitudes. It’s important to reach them young and also in adolescence. But I believe we can eventually eradicate the biases that exist as this generation grows up. This is a huge passion of mine and we are working on an experiential activation that will reach ‘tweens and teens with positive messaging around gender equality.
How have the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements played out in the advertising sector? Are they making a significant impact?
I think #MeToo and #TimesUp are making an impact in all sectors. Bringing this immoral treatment and behavior into the national and pop-culture spotlight sends the message to all. No more. You are not going to get away with it anymore. We are watching out for one another.
Initiatives such as Free The Bid are trying to create more opportunities for women in advertising. But what could be done at a more grass roots level to attract women in the first place?
Great work created by women should inspire other young women to get involved in the industry. Role models in higher-up agency positions should do their best to be visible and engaging to millennials and Gen Zers.
Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
I mentioned I have two little boys, right? I cannot believe how hard it is to play the dual role of a working mom. The strength it takes, the time it needs. There is no such thing as off-duty. I go from one job to the other and back. My mom was (still is) probably the best mother on this planet. She went above and beyond for my sister and I (we are talking home-sewn Halloween costumes and baked from scratch birthday cakes, PTA, etc). All the while, running retail for the Girl Scouts of the USA in their Manhattan HQ. She is a mentor and a half.
And if “mom” is too cliché for you, the woman who really mentored me in my career and made me a stronger woman was Annette Bachner. Annette was a dear friend and neighbor and the first female television director ever. She was “accidentally” promoted from stage manager on the Howdy Doody Show to Director on NBC news. When they saw that “A. Bachner” was a woman, she was promptly removed. That did not stop Annette. She went on to be a successful TV commercial director and producer and the first female American ever to win a Gold Lion at Cannes! Her stories, always over a scotch on the rocks, of using her gymnastic skills, hanging lights from riggings while the men on the set stood around dumbfounded, make me smile to this day.
How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women? In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?
As I entered the advertising industry, I had a boss (male) tell me: “Learn to play golf and enjoy smoking cigars if you want to be successful in this business.” A true sign of those times. Be a “man’s woman.”
My advice would be to be confident in your abilities and honest with yourself and others about your shortcomings. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Find what you love to do and work hard at it. Show respect for your female co-workers. It’s important that we back one-another. Strive for everything you want in life and let no one but yourself set limits on you or judge you……and I do love a good cigar.
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