I’ve launched a programme called FULL VI$IBILITY in which I’ll be working with businesses to identify their untapped pockets of dollars. Let's figure out how valuable your female consumer is and the impact that creating growth and driving more sales can have on your business. 



This article first appeared in b&t. 

Just back from the 5th annual 3% Conference – a festival championing female talent and leadership – Bec Brideson shares her insights from the event.

The 3% Conference was founded by Kat Gordon, a creative who started her own agency, and later began the 3% Conference back in 2011. She’s an infectiously positive and productive woman who is educating the industry as well as inspiring people all around her to acknowledge the power of improving gender balance in agencies (at senior and exec level especially) and why diversity is so good for business.

5 Myths about Marketing to Women

5 Myths about Marketing to Women

It’s no wonder that 60% of Australian women still say they feel misunderstood by marketers, with the ever-present stereotypes of women saturating ads of today. A recent article from The Fiscal Times debunked five of the most popular marketing myths about women.

Sports brands are at the forefront of female-centric marketing

Sports brands are at the forefront of female-centric marketing

Women don't need to be empowered by a sports brand!" Coming from the marketing director at Adidas India, Damyant Singh, these are bold, honest, and controversial words. Brands often make a classical mistake when talking to women; sports brands especially employed, and still do, a patronising tone. As Singh points out, the line of approach is "'I as a brand license you to pursue sport'". But to continue communicating in that fashion is just madness.

Women's models need the same amount of intelligence and effort as men's.

Women's models need the same amount of intelligence and effort as men's.

Women buy more new cars than ever before, and influence 80% of new car purchases but it is not quite as easy as automotive company Seat might have hoped. Marketing products to humans of either gender is a science and not as many have told me just "a sensitivity”. Read on...

These are the facts about female$, and they're f***** awesome.

These are the facts about female$, and they're f***** awesome.

Women, they are an economic force with a lot of value attached to them. They are more than a rich vein of money, they can turn into the best and most loyal of brand advocates too. Better to keep them satisfied for life, than have to constantly acquire them. 


Bonds, women love you, but you are on notice.

Bonds, women love you, but you are on notice.

There is a difference between "knowing your audience" and knowingyour audience.

The Bonds Father's Day ad is an entertaining comedy skit. The tension and timing is beautifully established, the casting is great (albeit very white-males) and some of the jokes are kinda funny. Kinda.

And therein lies the rub.




Women are leading businesses, boards and the governments of countries, thanks to the incredible transformation of women's roles in society and the workplace. Women are also increasingly important customers. Smart brands are waking up to the rise of women power, but it's not happening fast enough.


Dear CEO, this is not a man hating gender debate.

Dear CEO, this is not a man hating gender debate.

The female economic opportunity makes sense when you examine the figures from the likes of Boston Consulting, read the countless articles about why, and especially when you do the math and apply it to most businesses. Women are making the decisions, spending the ca$$$$h, and are a more engaged audience as proven by research.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the age old battle of the sexes.

MARKETING MAG: The New Reality - Women Have The Economic Power

MARKETING MAG: The New Reality - Women Have The Economic Power

Workplaces, brands and media that ignore the needs, financial prowess and buying power of women do so at their own peril, writes Bec Brideson.

Much business strategy has been modelled on texts like Sun Tzu’s Art of War. But perhaps this really is our moment to reframe the discussion as John Gerzema, and award-winning author, Michael D’Antonio did with their recent book The Athena Doctrines. They reference hard data from 64,000 people across the globe agreeing that ‘the world would be a better place if men though more like women’. The wily warrior archetype is starting to look pretty out-dated as values such as nurturing, listening, collaborating and sharing are changing the fortunes and profits of boardrooms.

The winner takes all approach of yesteryear is finally being challenged to open the way for a healthier planet without a predilection for combat.

Too often gender discussions wind up in accusatory battle-of-the-sexes arguments, feminist musings and chauvinistic taunts. This actually creates obfuscation around what should be a no-brainer in business: women are a mighty economic force and have the mantel of chief purchasing officer in most homes.

So, women and economics. How did it come about?

Kathy Matsui of Goldman Sachs coined the term back in the 90’s, whilst modelling ways to keep Japan’s economy buoyant despite a shrinking and greying workforce. For Japan women in the workforce remains an imperative, not a diversity issue.

Women’s participation en masse in the workforce actually drove women into a stage of economic independence and ultimately now, economic influence. As women have earned salaries and household incomes have increased women have become dual business operators – in the workplace by day, and in the home by night. The second shift, as it is commonly referred to, creates muscles of ‘operational excellence’ in women who are essentially CEOs of their homes.

Think about it – they manage all departments – health, finance, education, tourism, transport and even aged care. It is a very full schedule to pack into an evening. But this responsibility and role is what makes women the most influential consumer audience with nine out of 10 purchases falling into her job description.

True, we are starting to see a growing trend where this role in homes is becoming more gender-balanced and society is waking up to smell the equality.


RELATED: Make marketing love, not war, writes Steve Sammartino. Read »


The likes of Anabell Crabb’s The Wife Drought spurs a review of the traditional roles of Dad as breadwinner and Mum as nurturer. This literature helps to create openings for men to enjoy the home and hearth without fear of judgement or fear of career backslide suicide.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In incites women to push themselves forward and not let parenthood arrest their professional development. Both of these recommendations are starting to catch on. The more enlightened men are recognising this is an enriching life-experience worth pursuing, and women are seeking out this kind of DNA as ‘perfect husband’ pre-requisites. True.


A renaissance for humankind

It was just over 100 years ago that women were granted the right to vote in Australia, so lets not beat anyone up that we’ve inherited the past we did. And only in the last three decades has the effect of the Equal Opportunity Act made its impact felt. Men have been in positions of power in most industries, which is what makes them such an essential part of driving a new vision.

This is the moment to create new models and deliberately study innovation around women: as if a renaissance of humankind. Rather than be mealy-mouthed about the forefathers, or building higher walls at the boys clubhouse, its time to open our arms wide and embrace each other in a mindset for growth.

Recognising that such a shift needs to be made is the first step in creating better behaviours and a wider scope for us all.


Three factors driving change

Women’s financial prowess combined with society’s move from a male lens, allows us all to see gender diversity in the workforce from a more informed vantage point.

From consultancy firms including McKinsey and Ernst and Young, studies have proven the financial upside of a non-homogenous culture and the link with success.

Upwards of 15% more profitability, higher return on equity and sales. In a gender- balanced culture ideas flow, and possibilities open up. This is what we must focus on for the big-game win. There are those like Grayson Perry who declared in his article ‘The Default Man:’ “For talented black, female and working-class people to take their just place in the limited seats of power, some of those Default Men are going to have to give up their seats”.

This is an understandable corollary when you see the discussion presented in this manner. But what if we changed the rules to an abundance mentality to consider everyone? Perhaps we could change the governance and expand the number of the seats at the table? Seems every solution has a problem! When can we solve this then?


The politics of women’s financial might

There is a certain irony that the discussion of women’s economic consumer power is turned into a he against she battleground. It means that the rational profit-earning possibility is lost because the wrong discussion gets the airtime. When the three Fs of the interwebs changed the world we live in – Flat, Free and Fast, they may as well have called it the four Fs.

Female numbers stack up; forever changing the way the world operates.

Women are an economic powerhouse. They are the fastest emerging economy – more than India and China put together twice over. They can make or break a brand, a category and a segment. Hello Nike women. Hello Apple. Welcome to the game of the female consumer. Now is the time for innovation and for changing the rules of engagement.

Women are looking for products that understand their needs and get ther perspective. This is the golden age for brands to meet her needs and #getthechicks.


The new lens will make better focus

Elon Musk is flipping the auto industry and we are discussing the driverless car as a when not an ‘if’. Talk about a revolution. So why not see revolution everywhere for women?

As a kid I often wondered why the news captured the interest of my dad, not my mum. Perhaps it was an issue of being time-poor, Mum juggling the day shift, the second shift, and then the night shift of her Masters degree. But as I have reached milestones I’ve seen something more.

The nightly news is a pattern of ‘the days events’ followed by a section of ‘sport’ and if you are lucky a good news story after the weather. Imagine if ‘news’ was ‘the day’s events’ followed by a ‘human interest story’ before the weather?

Sport is on one hundred and one specialty channels for sports lovers. Society could benefit from a story that gives us life skill and insights. As story telling is on the rise as a discipline it might just be the time to rethink our future audience. There are studies that prove that rich emotional content will sustain women’s engagement.

Is the format in print valid to the audience of women? It feels like one of those hangovers from the 50’s with the slippered, pipe-smoking dad unwinding after a day with his newspaper and nightly news. Media-magnates might do well to imagine if it were seen through the female lens.

Huffington Post has certainly shown the opportunity is begging. Women’s financial status and purchasing responsibilities open up possibilities for every business to secure female customer loyalty. As the Boston Consulting Group found in their 2009 global study ‘Women Want More’ they are ready to be serviced in a way that meets their parched-needs.

With her increased load juggling she is searching for brands that provide her with more efficiency, more time and even more love. Every business and category has the potential to make this relationship with women work in a way that serves both her and the brand.


Start the change

It could be a bumpy road ahead for business that doesn’t actively adapt to the new reality. Women have the power when they are making the purchase. Ignore her at your peril. She will go searching for unmet needs. Brands who are rethinking about her world in a 360 exploration, her demands, her lifelong worth as a customer and brand advocate are thriving.

Those resting on past laurels are just surviving and those who don’t believe it are not even reading these articles – their bias is so unconscious they are incapable of seeing that they are stuck in an era that belongs to older generations. But this change won’t just reach a tipping point. It will flip it.

Buckle up business world… it’s about to get interesting.


Bec Brideson helps clever companies be commercially smarter with women. With over 24 years experience in the communications industry, Bec was one of 3% of females to become a creative director in the advertising industry. Bec trains and speaks, locally and internationally, on marketing to women, the power of the female economy, and leveraging your brand.

Mumbrella: Can Kevin Roberts’ comments lead adland into a Renaissance?

Mumbrella: Can Kevin Roberts’ comments lead adland into a Renaissance?

Suspended Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts can come back from his comments about women not wanting top management roles by owning his error publicly, argues Bec Brideson.


Last week Kevin Roberts shoved his foot in his mouth when he proclaimed that the gender debate was over in the ad industry. His contention continued that Cindy Gallop was somehow using the subject to create attention for herself rather than altruistically champion its relevance in our future.

I wonder, does he think that the communications industry is impervious to the global gender studies from Catalyst, EY and McKinsey?


At Gallop’s behest, yet another social media furore unfolded as women and men, set about tweeting him thoughts about the archaic views of this dinosaur. This online outrage is becoming a preferred method of publicly highlighting unacceptable issues.

And though I participated with my own sense of first-hand frustration, it dawned on me that these mistakes made public are actually the way we adjust, refine and remodel our future.

Maurice Levy has gone into crisis mode placing the great Saatchi’s guru, Roberts, on indefinite leave. He has now become our latest patsy for the evolving conversation regarding gender inequality.

His ignorance is now another woman’s opportunity to prove why we must continue the conversation. And this is real progress.

The knock-on effect is that Kat Gordon will have her 3% Conference work globally acknowledged. It places female champions such as Wendy Clarke, Lauren Connolly and champions of change such a Brad Jakeman in a place of further prominence.

The winds of change are exhilarating.

As a consultant teaching the economic upside of women, I see an enormous amount of industries and businesses recognise that new attitudes and methodology must prevail. It is heartening to see that progressive management teams seek counsel in the way in which we approach gender on many different levels.


Eddie Mcguire, Steve Price and recently the Brighton Grammar Instagram boys have become the Trojan horses that have allowed us to penetrate the walls of “white male privilege” and move this conversation into a place of true enlightenment.

The way Holden handled the sponsorship of Collingwood after the ill-conceived commentary on Caroline Wilson shows visionary brilliance. Rather than use it, prima facie, to deprive the club through public humiliation, the brand behaved in a way we can all learn from. They used it as an opportunity to grow and redress the lack of parity between gender, with affirmative action.

Similarly, Karl Stefanovic showed grace under fire last week. His sincere and humble apology after his misuse of old but insulting terminology and attitudes toward the LGBTQI community set a new standard for “owning ignorance”. His self-reflection and insight have inched us ever forward to a better understanding of the progress we are making with diversity and tolerance.

As we evolve from past constructs, with origins developed by a largely masculine workforce, it is inevitable that we encounter more and more outdated attitudes bred in a different era. It’s time we reframe the foolishness of the uninitiated as occasions to learn.

Will this be Kevin Roberts’ legacy? Will we remember these remarks he made about women and not his service to industry through his ‘Lovemarks’? I would hope that over the coming days, Roberts chooses to show us his willingness to become a role model through change.

Should he choose to use this perfect storm he will transform his brand from pale, stale and male to enlightened, awareness-heightened and not-frightened.

We are truly in a time of a new Renaissance.

Bec Brideson is a marketing-to-women pioneer helping brands and business leverage the growing female economy with more than 20 years advertising experience and insight. Bec is head of her own agency and was one of only 3% of females to attain the title of creative director

The Guardian: White hipster men: Unconscious bias still rules how brands are represented in ads

The Guardian: White hipster men: Unconscious bias still rules how brands are represented in ads

When Medibank wanted to sell its message that health insurance could be tailored to individual needs, the marketing team decided to use real people in real situations instead of actors.

This meant steering clear of the white, nuclear family and looking for people who represented Australia today. One in three people in Sydney speak a language other than English at home and one in three people in Australia today was born overseas. 

The result was a unique advertising campaign, “i am better”, which embraced the diversity of modern Australia and featured people who are often ignored in mainstream media and campaigns, including gay dads. 

“Traditional private health insurance advertising and marketing almost exclusively represents a certain section of society: white, Caucasian, mum, dad and the two kids,” says Fiona Le Brocq, Medibank’s general manager brand and marketing.

“We filmed real people in their homes, no hair and makeup, no scripts, which is about as real as it gets in advertising. Medibank’s campaign is an honest depiction of the diversity of Australia today.”

Le Brocq says the company’s decision to embrace difference in all its forms and recognise that people “live and love differently” has paid off in business as well as cultural terms. “By far the response to the campaign has been overwhelming positive,” she says.

But Medibank’s marketing choices are not commonplace. According to Megan Brownlow, editor of PwC’s annual Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook, the lack of diversity in Australian media is holding the industry back. The report found that the average employee working in the entertainment and media sector is 27, male, Caucasian and lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs or the inner west. The second highest concentration of workers in the sector is in Melbourne’s St Kilda and Richmond.

Increased number of women on ASX 200 boards is 'encouraging progress'

“Similar to the world we see depicted by media, entertainment and media businesses do not reflect an Australia that’s becoming more diverse by the day,” Brownlow said when she released the report. “It’s a case of chicken and egg and means the industry is not as well equipped for growth as it should be. 

“Studies have shown diversity improves business outcomes. To move the dial in the entertainment and media industry, greater focus needs to be placed on tackling unconscious bias and similarity attraction in recruitment.” 

A former creative director and ad agency owner, Bec Brideson, advises brands on the commercial advantage of attracting the female consumer and is devoted to challenging stereotypes in advertising. She says that unconscious bias still rules the choices brands make in who to represent them in ads. 

“There are times in my career where I have put up talent options from different ethnicities but big corporates inevitably have that unconscious bias of ‘people like us’ and choose the Wasp-y people,” Brideson says. “All white boards, shareholders etc and no one wants to challenge tradition of non-diverse mindsets.

“It all boils down to the ‘Hollywood gaze’ – the phenomena, where because mostly men are the directors or directors of photography, their natural gaze is one of a male focus. Same in the boardroom.

“Often agencies are asked to find different ethnicities in stock library photography and the problem is just as difficult. Try finding non-cliched images of non-white people. Basically impossible.”

The editor of AdNews, Rosie Baker, says the lack of diversity in advertising is stark, and was reflected in a 2013 study, which found that more than three quarters of the faces in Australian ads are white.

Although a more recent study is not available, Baker says the situation has remained largely the same. “I would say it’s broadly still the case that the output doesn’t reflect the diversity of the population,” Baker says. “If you look at the statistics they just don’t match up with what you see: they tend to be white, middle-class faces in the ads and that’s not what the Australian population is.

Baker says most of the blame is at the feet of the creative agencies who cast the ads but conservative clients can also play a part.

On-site childcare is a blessing for workers, so why don't more companies offer it?

Television advertising is influential in shaping the way the country sees itself. Although video consumption online has skyrocketed, television still accounts for the vast majority of screen viewing time in Australia – 84.3% – even among young people. In the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, 37 hours and 22 minutes a month is spent watching broadcast TV, according to the 2016 Australian Multi-Screen Report. 

With overall advertising spending forecast to reach $18.7bn by 2020, brands and creatives would be smart to start looking beyond the stereotype of the white Australian traditional family when casting their ads.

But casting is not the only barrier to diversity, according to Thang Ngo, managing director of Identity Communications. He says most of the supermarket ads are for products like bread and milk and feature families sitting around the breakfast table eating cereal, although increasingly the actors have non-white faces. 

“All they’ve done is swapped a Caucasian family with a non-Caucasian family and that doesn’t speak to diversity,” he says. “It’s only visual diversity. It’s like a packet of M&Ms: they are different colours but they all taste the same.

“What about showing Chinese new year? Showing diversity is one thing but celebrating it is another. Is it not better to celebrate multiculturalism by showing Chinese new year and Ramadan?”

Identity, which is part of IPG Mediabrands, works with clients who want to target specific ethnicities. The NSW government is a major client, using advertising to spread health messages to certain communities, for example. 

The director of sales for SBS, Andrew Cook, says he is starting to see some categories feature a better representation of Australia “rather than just truly white in the way they’re using the talent in their advertising”. 

“And we’re also seeing an increase in advertisers wanting to talk to an SBS audience, where they were reluctant or they didn’t feel they needed to in the past,” Cook says.

Cook says retailers are the first to change, followed by automotive and banks. “People realise we have to educate people who are arriving here about Australian brands that don’t exist overseas. Every marketer wants to continue to grow and you can’t keep talking to the same people year after year. You need new people to talk to.”

Women's Agenda: Women, the world's most influential consumer, so why don't businesses care?

Women's Agenda: Women, the world's most influential consumer, so why don't businesses care?

By Angela Priestley 

Money talks, and women control a LOT of it. 

Last week ad-land veteran Bec Brideson delivered a presentation on what is one of the most important issues confronting businesses, especially their marketing teams: women are the future, the statistics prove it. 

As Brideson outlined, women now make up 85% of purchasing decisions and control at least $28 trillion of our global economy. So you’d think any good marketer would be sitting up and taking notice. 

So what did Brideson's audience look like? Well as one of two options presented at the same time at the Mumbrella 360 conference, Brideson later told Women’s Agenda her audience was reflected right back at her. It was, she estimated, 95% female. 

The rest of the delegates headed over to see Mark Ritson, an outspoken industry voice who is questioning data in the digital world. A controversial and probably very interesting take, but as Brideson questioned, is it one that's more interesting than how to reach the world's most powerful customer?

Marketers are struggling to hear the message that women matter and will matter much more in the future. Not just marketers, but entire businesses from multinationals to small family-run operations. Boards continue to be dominated by men – incredibly six ASX 200 organisations still have no women on their boards at all. A good 25.1% of organisations reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency report having no key management personnel who are women. Meanwhile in agency land, women account for just 13.5% of senior creative positions and less than a quarter of those staffing creative departments. 

We live in a Mad, Mad World. But it’s not just advertising that’s the problem. 

If organisations were committed to better addressing their customers, we’d see their customers better represented in their leadership teams and across all departments.  

Putting the glacially slow-to-close gender leadership gap aside, why wouldn’t more male marketers be open to hearing about how to market to the female consumer? 

Brideson suggested that topics around data/digital transformation/technology can seem simpler to grasp. "It is perceived as measurable in outcome and it is more 'masculine' than is the subject of 'women'," she said 

"Technology and it’s by-products are transforming so much of business. But women are a bigger opportunity, if only they could hear why.” 

She adds that the message gets lost in translation and dismissed as a gender debate. 

But it's not a debate. It's reality. Indeed, it’s a “competitive advantage,” as Brideson says, yet one that businesses continue to overlook. Is the subject too boring? Too hard to measure? Has it too long been relegated to being a women's issue and therefore one for women to deal with alone? Kind of like childcare? 

Great marketing and creative work starts with something else, a diverse range of people.

And great diversity will not only improve marketing efforts, but improve entire businesses by bringing in a broader range of thinking and ideas. 

“The tipping point for the new, powerful female economy is close,” Brideson says. “Even if marketers don’t listen now, they’ll have to eventually.”  

As Cindy Gallop said in her address at the Mumbrella 360 event, there’s a “goddam shit-tonne of money” to be made from businesses that embrace diversity and any new business starting out with an all-white male leadership team will NOT own the future. 

It’s time to take women seriously. As employees, as leaders, as customers. 

Ad News: Bec Brideson and MissCollective launch leadership workshop

Ad News: Bec Brideson and MissCollective launch leadership workshop

Advertising exec Bec Brideson and women's mentoring group MissCollective have joined forces to launch a female empowerment workshop which aims to help women climb the ladder.

The #LikeABoss workshop will take place in Melbourne and will see Brideson uncover how to break the glass ceiling in advertising through her personal anecdotes and insights. The two hour session will be a mix of career theory, practicals and discussions on getting ahead.

Brideson is a renown figure in Australian advertising as director of marketing-to-women agency Venus Comms and her own consultancy Bec Brideson. She is also outspoken on the need for the industry to better support and include women.

“With the lack of role models in agencies, it's up to those of us who have fought for leadership to send the elevator back down for the new female talent,” Brideson says. “If we don’t the industry will go to the dogs.”

MissCollective was co-founded by Isobar creative director Kara Jenkins and Reactive group account director Steph Webster who both worked with the Melbourne arm of SheSays.

It focuses on mentoring and workshopping events to help women grow their carers

Jenkins says the #LikeABoss workshop is a welcome addition to its events and services.

“We hope Bec can share her imitable wisdom in how to succeed in a male dominated industry,” Jenkins adds.