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Lesbians Lead Top Ad Agency Design Team

21 May Posted by in • Robin Lowey | Comments Off on Lesbians Lead Top Ad Agency Design Team
Lesbians Lead Top Ad Agency Design Team

When I heard that Wieden + Kennedy (one of the world’s top ad agencies —think NIKE and Coca Cola—announced the hiring of acclaimed design veterans Nicole Jacek and Noreen Morioka to serve as co-heads of design, leading the Portland offices 100-plus studio employee team—I thought, wow! Advertising culture has come a long way since the Madmen days when I stayed deep in the closet at a major San Francisco ad agency in order to keep my job.

From ADWEEK: “As we continue to invest in our design studio, Nicole and Noreen were exactly the type of provocative, world-class design leaders we were looking for,” said executive creative director Jason Bagley. “We could not be more excited to add them to the family.”

Not surprisingly, no mention was ever made of them being a lesbian couple in any of the various media articles I could find about hiring the team. In talking with Nicole and Noreen, I learned that they are indeed very out and open about being a couple.

I shared with them some stories from my agency days in the ‘90s. It wasn’t just hard being a lesbian, it was also tough being a WOMAN and fitting into the sexy-babe stereotype—which I was particularly bad at. But I loved advertising, and I was good at it. Our agency was the first to be successfully sued for hostile environment, due to the truly unbelievably bad treatment of women. The three men that were named in the suit went on to start their own successful agency together—go figure.

Mugging with Nicole

There was the time I wore a lowcut dress, heels and big hair to a company party and that finally won me a big account. Later, when the agency realized I was pregnant—I pretended for quite a while that I was just getting fat—they gave my big account to a guy. I was the oldest person at my agency at 40. And when I got laid off at 50 I decided to start a whole new career path that isn’t about trying to sell stuff to people. Whew! What a relief.

Nicole and Noreen talked about how it’s not always easy, but generally speaking they are part of an accepting culture in today’s advertising world. Maybe it’s becoming a non-issue and Madmen days are close to dying out.

Congrats to W + K for setting the bar high on diversity in their ranks. Shame on the media for not letting all the little queer girls out there know they have these badass role models to look up to. I LOVE THESE WOMEN!

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