Women's Presence Continues to Grow in Advertising Industry

Article excerpt

When Malena Lott and Cynthia Dutton lost their jobs with the merger of Teleflora and American Floral Service, they instantly put together a plan that had been two years in the works.

They formed BrainWorks Advertising, a two-person agency designed to take advantage of their experience, skills and education.

"We've had the name and the plan for a long time, but it has been on hold for the past couple of years," Lott said. "This (having their jobs eliminated in the corporate merger) was just the kick we needed to get started on this."

Now they have a full-service agency dealing in advertising, public relations and marketing. They are going for two niche markets, two in which they both have substantial skills -- small telecommunications companies and small retail florists.

Lott and Dutton are fairly typical of a growing segment of the advertising, marketing and public relations industry -- people who have either lost their corporate jobs, didn't like the corporate structure or were more comfortable with a small agency atmosphere.

While in many industries, women still have a glass ceiling, this image-enhancement industry has been a wide-open field since World War II.

In some of the bigger agencies, men still hold top jobs, but that, too, is changing. Most of the small agencies in Oklahoma are owned by women.

Mindy McClellan, president of Holderby Associates, is not a part of the typical move into this industry. She grew up in it.

She now heads the agency that was founded by two partners before World War II. Her father, the late Bob Holderby, joined the agency from KWTV Channel 9, became a partner, then bought out the other two.

McClellan has never held a corporate job, even though she did work for other agencies "just to see what it was like and not be saddled with the family firm."

"Mine is a totally different case," she said. "My profession just sort of evolved."

When Bob headed the agency, he was assisted by wife Betty who provided the role model for McClellan.

Now, the oldest American Association of Advertising Agencies- certified agency in Oklahoma, still operates as a full-service agency and gives the diversity that McClellan is seeking.

"I love this agency," she said. "We have a diverse clientele and this is a multifaceted business. I love the new challenges that I face every day."

Jeaneen Pointer, owner of Waddell Pointer Advertising, came into the field through the corporate side, working for hospitals until she joined founder Karen Waddell.

Two years after joining the firm, she bought out Waddell, but has kept the name.

"When I came into the agency business, I had worked on the other side, being the client who hired advertising agencies," she said. "I feel that brings a different perspective to the business, lets me understand what it is that a client wants."

While all the women interviewed for this article stressed how much they love the business, none would offer a blanket recommendation for this field as a career. …

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