The Invisible woman strikes back.
Jane Evans has had a stunning career in advertising. She gave Cate Blanchett her first job, created Australia’s first craft beer and ran her own multi-million dollar agency with clients like Revlon and Maserati.
She has travelled the world, rubbed shoulders with celebrity, dined with royalty, won a host of awards, and worked with the world’s top brands.
But after 31 years of working full pelt (12 as a single mum), she needed a break. Well, sort of. She took a couple of years off to study storytelling for the screen and was on her way to a new career when a horrific stat came out.
It turns out while she was out of big agency land almost all of her female peers had disappeared too. In 2015 only 3% of the world’s creative directors (the people who decide what we see in ads) were women.
She knows the vital importance of women selling to women, not men projecting their fantasies onto us. And she knows what she’s talking about. She created the world’s first ads to show a divorced couple, an unwed couple living together, and men doing laundry effectively.
So she held her hand up.
It was ignored.
Over the next three years she watched her outstretched hand as if it were gradually disappearing as she applied for job after job and heard nothing after nothing.
“The sad thing about watching yourself becoming invisible is you can start to believe it. It’s hard to value yourself when your industry doesn’t want your wisdom and experience and it’s even harder to keep going when society doesn’t value you full stop.”
She could relate to the fact that the group with the most disturbing growth in suicide attempts is women 50+.
” I thought fuck that! If I can become invisible. Me? What hope do any of us have?”
So, armed with statistics that prove women over 50 are the most powerful consumer group on the planet who buy 47% of everything, she put together a kick arse team, got an influential following on social media.
And discovered she was just as invisible to clients.
She finally opened the door to one big brand to present a multi-generational concept. It was slammed in her face.
“Our target consumer is 19 and under. If anything, we will be going younger.”
(Yes, we know, every mother of teenagers is now screaming “But who the hell do you think pays for their shit?”)
Undeterred, Jane took the startup approach of ‘fail fast and fail forward’. Or to use the technical term, she pivoted.
And she did some consumer research.
She put out a call to find the women over 50 working in advertising creative departments and invited them for a cuppa to hear their stories.
Every single woman’s life story was fascinating, so Jane started having cuppas with all sorts of older women. The Uninvisibility Project was born.
But she wasn’t prepared for a phenomena she hadn’t experienced since seeing so many pregnant women when she was pregnant. Invisible women seemed to be popping up everywhere:
The ex-high flying city finance exec facing eviction.
The woman overheard in a café saying her interview went well but she knows they’ll give the job to a thirty-something.
The once massively successful career girl applying for a job as a hotel maid.
Jane decided the world didn’t need another ad agency.
The world needs to meet some incredible women…
Hear more about Jane and the Uninvisibility Project on our podcast below.