Why agencies should embrace their ‘feminine’ side

Marketel's Jessie Sternthal says go ahead, let your emotion out.


By Jessie Sternthal

“Don’t be so sensitive.” “You’re over-reacting.” “Stop taking things to heart so much.” Compliments. All compliments.

To any creative - male or female – in the business today who has ever heard these phrases, congratulations. You’re doing what you were born to do: mine human insights, feel genuine empathy and delightfully package truths that can connect with an infinite number of people. You and the neurons in your hippocampus were literally born with what it takes to move things. And you’re in the perfect business, at the perfect time, to do so.

There has never been a better moment to be innately emotional. Because there has never been a greater demand for emotionally resonant work.

In an age where we are at the mercy of our titanium gadgets, at the captivity of our high-res screens and in the grip of mobile socializing, it seems we – as an era – are starved for brand work that makes us feel again. Remember feeling? Yeah, me too. Work that reconnects us with ourselves, with the world we live in and with all who matter in it. Because as much as “anytime minutes” or “sugar content” or “horsepower” count, they don’t really count for much. If you know what I’m sayin’.

Demonstrating emotion at work has forever been considered a “female trait.” And often, not a very positive one. For most of our careers, we’ve been encouraged to stifle it. “Toughening up” at the office has forever been synonymous with “moving up.” Showing too much warmth has been synonymous with showing weakness. And feeling too much on the job has been synonymous with flailing too much on the job.

So that’s where this story is axed. It’s not about burying, but rather owning the side of you that make you Mr. or Ms. sensitive creative – an asset and a force to be reckoned with in today’s ad, content, film and storytelling universe. And, it’s about agencies recognizing and embracing – what I’m going to go right out and say might just be – their feminine sides.

Because a creative department without feelers is like a movie without a score. Or like a bottle of wine without alcohol. Or like room temp fat-free instant pistachio pudding mix.

Brands such as Intel, Cheerios, Volvo and Bank of America have all proven that super smart but heart-stringy content works. And don’t discount the sharp rise of CSR. Those do-good briefs are among the most coveted in any creative department right now – not just because everyone feels fabulous about working on them, but because most importantly, the work itself is sparking serious change! We’ve seen it in some cases result in clean water for entire villages, new limbs for kids in war-torn countries and saved lives across the world. In fact, CSR is such a win right now, Creative Week in New York this year was dedicated to it. Yup, the whole ridiculously inspiring week. The moral of all this morality is that we are enjoying feeling again in this business and in this life. And what a business for all that feel to have access to.

So if you’re one of the emotionals out there, wear it proudly. Channel it whip-smartly. And make it your thing. You have a skill few people have. And brands and agencies need you, and your giant, pulsating heart, now more than ever.

jessie_1Jessie Sternthal is a senior writer at Marketel. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock