A Progressive & Positive Chain: Ana Luiza Santos, MullenLowe Brasil

To mark International Women’s Day, AdForum is gathering opinions from women working in advertising and marketing communications. We asked women from a range of job roles both agency- and client-side, for their view of the state of the industry. 


MullenLowe Group
Todo en uno
London, Reino Unido
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Ana Luiza Santos
Head of Strategy and Connections MullenLowe Brasil

How would you describe the overall culture at your agency?

Although advertising is skewed to one gender, I am optimistic in how it’s evolving. MullenLowe Brasil is a great example of an agency that has women in leadership positions, as we believe it makes a huge difference to the kind of work we conceptualize and execute, and also ensure we are staying relevant to the new generation of ad professionals.


In your opinion, what do you see as the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the glass ceiling?

I think that the transformation speed has increased. Having female leaders who have a voice naturally empowers other women to find their space in the ad environment, which is a progressive and positive chain. A young woman starting in advertising today can enjoy a must more positive, transparent and fair environment than those a decade ago.


Do you think that women still face challenges in our industry, and if so, what are they?

There are so many challenges. The first one is the unreachable expectations. I have a theory that for a woman to become a leader in our industry, she must be a kind of Wonder Woman: professional, talented, committed, emphatic, generous, ambitious, confident, sweet but assertive, well dressed, positive, beautiful…yes, the list is endless. For men, there’re fewer expectations, for sure. The other one that is crucial in my opinion is related to balancing professional and personal lives. Most women of my generation have struggled in their careers the moment they decide to have a baby. Many of them have made a personal decision to take care of the baby for a while, but others do not have that option.


How should we tackle an issue such equal opportunity?

I think the first step is recruitment and career programs which support women. If you have a position in the creative team, you should recruit two or three times more females than males. There’s no miracle, if the agency is not considering female candidates, they won’t be able to break the glass ceiling.


How did you find your way into the marketing communications industry and what professional achievement are you most proud of?

It’s a funny story: when I was a kid, I dreamt of being an engineer. When I was 17, my mom decided that I should take a vocational test and result was unexpected: social sciences and communication should be my career priorities. My luck was that it was love at first class. I really started to appreciate and understand behaviors, people’s needs and the role of consumption in their lives.

In terms of professional achievements, I’m really proud of former assistants, interns and managers that have been part of my team who are now in leadership positions in the ad industry and I feel I have impacted them positively, somehow, I hope. :-)


Who inspires you the most, either inside the industry or outside? Why?

In this market, I have a special admiration for my first boss, Ronald Assumpção. When we were working together, he was Latin America VP at a global agency and had founded his own agency. He was an example of principles, boldness and how to treat people in this industry. With me he was especially generous and had helped me to overcome my vulnerabilities in my early steps in this industry.